The seniors stand in the hallway one last time, flocking together for selfies in Eagle blue and gold.
One student checks her cellphone. Thirteen minutes to go.
Slowly they make their way down the stairs to Larry C. Banks Memorial Gymnasium to find the last seat they will take as a Brown County student.
Some eagerly look into the crowd for the faces of family and friends. Smiles are exchanged, air high-fives are done across the gym and thumbs-ups are given.
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National Honor Society president Lizzy Jensen was one of the first speakers to the stage.
She talked about the nervousness she felt on her first days of elementary school, junior high and high school. She even brought a map on her first day as a freshman to make sure she didn’t get lost.
Through it all, her parents were there. Her mom walked her to her junior high classes before school started so she would know the routes, and helped her figure out the combination to her first locker. And they’ll still be by her side in the fall, assuring she won’t get lost and helping her get her dorm room in order at Indiana University, she said.
“I love you, Mom and Dad. I know I don’t say that enough,” she said.
Valedictorian Sean “Nic” Lopes encouraged his fellow classmates to “try to achieve truly great goals, because we only get one opportunity.”
“Now I know the world isn’t as simple as high school, but I hope each of us can use our experiences from here to walk through those doors and succeed,” he said.
Speaker Dr. Drew Watters, a 1996 graduate of Brown County High School who’s now the emergency medical director at IU Health, encouraged them to “commit to caring” — for themselves and others.
“Pay attention to the situation around you and what’s your role in it? Where do you want to see yourself go?” he said.
He drew on his world travels — including living in Kenya and Thailand — to encourage them to aim for “success,” however they want to define it.
“To succeed and to fail comes down to two main things: To care and to commit. The most successful people in the world are not the smartest, not the richest … (they) are driven to continue that fight,” he said.
“Commit yourself to caring for yourself. Commit yourself to actually caring for other people.”
He told them to not look at themselves as either a success or a failure in life. Every day is an opportunity to recommit.
“To succeed, to fail, those are action verbs. Every day, get up. You’re going to have days you don’t win. You’re going to have days where you feel really, really bad, but you have to get up and keep moving forward,” he said.
“That’s what it means to succeed.”
Valedictorian: Sean Nicholas Lopes
Salutatorian: Michael Hess
Guest speaker: Dr. Drew Watters, M.D.
16 midterm graduates
6 early graduates after junior year
45 general education diplomas
60 Core 40 diplomas
3 Technical Honors diplomas
45 Academic Honors diplomas
6 Technical and Academic Honors diplomas
2 certificates of completion