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Viking grads look to seize opportunity

AID TOWNSHIP — It is doubtful that any of the Symmes Valley High School graduating seniors will ever pass up an opportunity to better their lives and further their education.

With themes like “making it happen” and “around the corner,” the 58 graduates used Sunday as the starting point to a life of opportunity and continued learning.

The class of 2009 began the next trip of their young lives at the school’s commencement exercises in front of a capacity crowd at the Vikings’ gymnasium.

Wearing matching scarlet caps and gowns for the women graduates and gray caps and gowns for the men, the graduating seniors marched in pairs through the crowd of 400 in attendance then broke off single file while taking their place on the gymnasium’s stage along with Symmes Valley administrators.

From the start, the theme of accomplishment was evident. Each senior had the look of wanting to get on with the next step, while remembering all that was good with the past.

“This class has met the challenges,” said superintendent Thomas Ben. “With each graduate there is a story of success.”

Ben then took a moment to recognize the parents and families in attendance and how he was touched by the success each of the graduates had starting with their home lives.

“Nothing of worth is easily achieved,” salutatorian Julie Ann Carter said while addressing her classmates. “Stay on your toes and expect the unexpected. That’s what keeps lives interesting.”

Carter is scheduled to attend The Ohio State University and major in biology.

Co-valedictorian Kelli Myers, who will be attending Marshall University in the fall, used her time at the podium to recap her journey from kindergarten through her senior year. She said that despite all the fears, nervousness and occasional awkwardness, each of her classmates “made it happen.”

“I have no doubt my classmates will be successful and make it happen,” said an emotional Myers while wrapping up her thank you messages to her family and friends.

Also caught in the emotions of the moment was Kendra Saunders, who along with Myers shared valedictorian honors. She used her time at the podium to remind her classmates to “take the time” to thank those who cared about them.

“The hardest part of senior year has to be preparing to leave,” Saunders said in explaining that her classmates have excelled in taking time. “Take the time to have fun. This is one thing the class of 2009 has mastered.”

Saunders will be majoring in health service administration while attending Ohio University Southern in the fall.

In total, 28 members of the Symmes Valley Class of 2009 were named honor students with Myers, Saunders and Carter named Summa Cum Laude.

Magna Cum Laude were: Jessica Keathley, Robert Powell, Jerad Baldwin, Haily Pelletier, Darlene Hutchinson, Jennifer Wilson, Dustin Wilson, Elizabeth Ash, Brian Brady, Chancey Meade, Jennifer Smith and Brian Williams, Jr.

Cum Laude were: Jeffrey Huff, Jr., Cody Bland, Steven Clark, Renee Justice, Emily Geswein, Stephanie Rowe, Mekalah Davis, Patricia Tackett, Victoria Miller, Brittany Coomes, Megan Russell, Gage Patterson and Justin Boster.

Board of Education president Wayne Taylor presented the diplomas to the graduates.

Seniors chose their class song to be “If Today Was Your Last Day” by the Canadian rock band Nickelback with their class motto as “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll never see tomorrow” which was quoted in part by James Dean.