'Never stop growing' – Class Of 2023 Graduates From PHS
Perkins High School celebrated the 63rd Commencement ceremony under sunny skies in Firelands Health Stadium on Sunday, May 28.
The Class of 2023 had 132 graduates. Among them, more than 65 plan to attend a four-year college or university, and several others will attend trade schools, have enlisted in the military, or plan to enter the workforce.
In her address to her classmates, Class of 2023 President Ashritha Kota, encouraged the PHS graduates to accomplish great things. She compared their time at Perkins Schools to the lifecycle of a kaya fruit.
“When it is first planted, it’s just a tiny seed,” Ashritha said. "With the right care and attention, it grows into a small sapling. And, over time, that sapling becomes a strong, sturdy tree with branches stretching out in every direction. But, here’s the thing about this kaya tree: It doesn’t just grow on its own. It needs water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil. And, just like this kaya, we’ve all needed a little help along the way."
Ashritha thanked family, teachers, friends, and mentors for all that they have done to help her and her classmates through school. And, like the kaya, she encouraged students to continue to grow after graduation.
“We should never stop growing, never stop learning, and never stop striving to be the best versions of ourselves,” Ashritha added. “We should always be looking for ways to improve, to challenge ourselves, and to make a positive impact on the world around us.”
Dr. Bradley Mitchel, a member of the Perkins Board of Education and father of 2023 PHS graduate Emily Mitchel, addressed the graduates. He reminded them that their education does not end with high school graduation, and they must continue to work hard and put forth effort to accomplish their goals and fulfill their dreams.
“Those here on the field behind me and those sitting up in the stands have all taught you and supported you, and given you the tools necessary to succeed,” Dr. Mitchel told the grads. “You must use those tools to build and shape your future into what you envision your life to be.
“Everyone defines success differently, but only you can define success for yourself.”
Traditionally, PHS Honors Scholars – students who achieve all A’s throughout their high school careers and have earned at least half their high school credits at PHS – elect speakers to address the graduating class. This year’s Honors Scholars are Caroline Gast, Emma Manley, Will Werling, Dylan Keller, Emily Mitchel, and Ashritha Kota. In addition to Ashritha who deliver the Class of 2023 address, the other five each spoke briefly during the commencement ceremony.
Honors Scholar Caroline Gast reflected on the time she and her classmates spent at Perkins Schools, including the Briar Middle School class trip to Philadelphia and the closing of the school due to a pandemic when they were freshmen.
We survived a broken down bus on our 8th grade trip, even though it meant sitting in the back of a hotel parking lot for hours,” Caroline recalled. “We also survived a global pandemic; at the low cost of half of our freshman year and all of our work ethics”
But the tough times made it special, she added. “No matter what, we were able to navigate our way through difficult times as a class, and the memories will live on for years after we’ve left each other, so learn to appreciate one another.”
Honors Scholar Emma Manley savored the opportunities she and her classmates enjoyed at PHS.
“Career exploration and college preparation programs allowed us to take the first steps at growing up and planning a future,” Emma said. “Whether you’re going into medicine, legal studies, business, the workforce, or even if you’re undecided, the breadth of opportunities provided by PHS can be utilized as a solid foundation for our upcoming endeavors.”
Honors Scholar Will Werling mused on the future that he and his classmates face.
“We must now find ourselves in unfamiliar territory,” Will told the Class of 2023. “Embrace the uncomfortable. Friends can be found in an unfamiliar elective or intramural activity, or by taking a day trip to explore what our new homes have to offer.”
Honors Scholar Dylan Keller discussed the tools he and his classmates will need to succeed after graduation.
“To reach success, we must work harder than we have ever thought was possible,” Dylan said. “We, have each been equipped with a set of tools that will help us succeed in life. Each tool has a different purpose, and the tools will come together to help us achieve your goals.”
And, lastly, Honors Scholar Emily Mitchel wished her classmates the best of luck as they go out into the world.
“I will forever be grateful and proud to be a member of the Perkins Class of 2023,” Emily told the Class of 2023. “Although it was sometimes chaotic, the memories and friendships that we all have gained here will last a lifetime.”
Congratulations, Perkins High School Class of 2023.