The 88 Owensboro Catholic High School graduates who walked across the stage Sunday at the Owensboro Athletic Center could still be associated with the pandemic, said school principal Gates Settle.
However, they will also be associated with the need to persevere and work towards something bigger than themselves, he said.
“This class had a year that was unaffected by COVID, their freshman year,” he said. “I hope they learned what some of us take a long time to learn as we get older, which is to work together for a common cause.”
Students who lived through the pandemic also gained something else, and that’s one of the positive outcomes of the past few years, Settle said.
Students have learned to appreciate school and all the other extracurricular activities associated with it. They understand what it’s like to not be able to complete specific milestones, like school dances and retreats, so when those opportunities come back, they’ve been grateful, he said.
Settles has been in the role for 11 years and said he’s been blessed to lead another strong group of students in the world beyond high school. The class of 2022, the school’s 71st class, is no different, he said.
“We will miss them, they are a good group,” he said. “I think maybe they had to grow a little faster. They’ve had to go through things like no other band has had before, but they’re good, successful youngsters and I can’t wait to see what they do with themselves.
Ben Murphy, 18, said his graduation day was sad, but also sweet. He was happy that his classmates and their families could come together to celebrate and say goodbye.
He wanted all of his peers to enjoy every moment of the day, “because it’s all over after that,” he said.
Living through the coronavirus for most of his high school years didn’t spoil the experience, however, he said.
“It taught us all valuable lessons,” he said. “We definitely had to learn a different way and we had to adapt. We have learned to make the most of what we have and to always stay positive.
After graduation, Murphy plans to earn his Associate of Science degree at Owensboro Community & Technical College. After that, he could attend Western Kentucky University, but said the beauty of its limitless possibilities was exciting.
Owensboro Catholic is honoring its valedictorian as a Summa Cum Laude graduate, who was Jansen Tipmore this year.
Tipmore, who turned 19 on the day of her graduation, said the whole day had been a bit overwhelming and filled with equal parts sadness and excitement.
He looks forward to his next path in life, which will be to study philosophy at Center College. He will also miss his high school classmates when he is gone, he said.
In his speech to the Class of 2022, Tipmore explained how sad it would be to leave a place you’ve known for 12 years or more. Most OCHS students have gone to school together since preschool.
Jansen said he has known most of his classmates all his life.
“It’s sad to leave all those people you’ve come to love,” he said. “It’s hard to feel that while trying to have hope for the future. I’m scared to leave, but I thank everyone for being such wonderful people and making my life better than before.”
Bobbie Hayse, [email protected], 270-691-7315