CEDAR LAKE — Hanover Central High School graduating senior Bailee Clift adorned her mortarboard with this message: “Last minute … like everything else I do.”
“I just procrastinated a lot and I still managed to graduate,” said the future Valparaiso University nursing student.
Clift graduated with a class of 183 students, one of the largest graduating classes in Hanover Township School Corp. history.
Coming off a year of COVID-19, valedictorian Kathryn Jackowski reminded classmates, “No one said it was easy, but no one said it would be this hard.”
Jackowski is headed for the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. “I’ve always been interested in the service,” she said, “and when I met the kind of people there, I fell in love with the place.”
Salutatorian Kayle Drewno will study chemical engineering at Purdue University West Lafayette. “It’s kinda scary, going off on my own,” she said, “but also exciting, because I’ll be learning what I like.”
In her commencement address, Drewno challenged classmates to “apply all the things you have learned. Never stop learning.”
Hanover Central Principal Tami Kepshire praised graduates as leaders, encouraging them to “never stop trying new things, never stop challenging yourself, and never stop having fun.”
Superintendent Dr. Mary Tracy-MacAulay wants to post in her office a photo of this graduating class for its determination and perseverance. “You make us better,” she said.
Commencement included the listing of colleges, universities, apprenticeships, military service branches, and workplaces of graduates. Jacob Schulman plans to study mechanical engineering at Purdue and play in the symphonic band as a tenor sax.
Schulman called graduation “a step into the future, a huge change and movement in my life. This is the end of the first part of my life’s chapter, and I’m ready to experience all the world holds for me. I can’t wait to go to college and pursue my passion.”
Undecided as to a major, Hope Huyser will pursue general studies at Purdue Northwest. Having studied online all year, Huyser reunited with classmates. “It’s nice to see them all for the last time,” she said.
While some students wore symbols of academic achievement, Naomie Avila wore a stole honoring her American and Mexican heritage and her parents, “who did so much for me to be here. I made it here by hard work, dedication, and my family cheering me on.”