480 freshly certified Saline High School graduates ventured into adulthood at Hornet Stadium Sunday evening.
Commencement speaker Jim Harbaugh, coach of the University of Michigan football team, encouraged the graduates to attack their goals with enthusiasm, obedience, principle, integrity and constant hustle.
“You’re 18 years old and you’re attacking the world. Hopefully, you’re attacking it with an ‘enthusiasm unknown to mankind,’” Harbaugh said, referencing a family mantra. “It’s just not that hard to outwork people. Most people want and expect to have more fun and less work. So you could get them.”
Saline students have already shown considerable hustle. Principal Julie Helber relayed a number of facts and figures that exemplify the success of this year’s graduating class.
- Saline’s advance placement test pass rate is tops in the state.
- There were 11 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists and 11 National Merit Scholarship finalists.
- There were seven National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholars.
- 143 students are graduating with an unweighted grade point average of 3.667 or higher.
- The class of 2016 received scholarships worth more than $100,000 from 38 contributors.
- 74 percent of Saline High School graduates will attend four-year universities and colleges. 18 percent will attend two-year educational programs. Others will attend skilled trade schools, enlist in the military or enter the workforce.
“Regardless of their destinations, the lessons they have learned at school, home and in our community will serve our students well as they face their future,” Helber said. “Saline High School is an institution in which quality of work is the expectation, not the exception. The class of 2016 has maintained that level of excellence. Their service and character are a tribute to their parents, families, school and community.”
Helber offered personal thanks to the class of 2016. Helber, who is leaving the district to become superintendent in Chelsea, was principal for all four years of the class’s time at Saline High School.
“The memories we have made together will be cherished for many years to come,” Helber said.
Ali Issa, President of the class of 2016, offered Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice for climbing the ladder of success.
“Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets,” Issa said. “His words suggest we need full commitment to our goals.
Issa took the crowd through the “rungs of opportunity” students have climbed at Saline High School.
Issa also announced that the senior class will donate its funds to establish an outdoor classroom.
Issa closed with a quote from coach Harbaugh.
“Realistic expectations for life are that we are going to better today than we were yesterday. Be better tomorrow than we are today,” Issa said. “That’s a plan for success.”
Saline’s graduates begin the next chapter of their lives with ambition and with appreciation for what they’ve learned at Saline Area Schools.
Zachary Owings has attended Saline schools since Kindergarten. Next year, he’ll study business management while playing baseball at Eastern Michigan University .
“It feels good to graduate,” said Owings, who still has some unfinished work to do on the baseball diamond. “I feel prepared for what I expect next year. I feel like I’ve given myself the best options to do well.”
Hannah Cummings will study education at Ball State University.
“It felt a lot more real today at commencement than it did on the last day of school. Today it really hit hard walking across the field. This is finally my year. You’re not the one sitting in the crowd, you’re the one experiencing it,” Cummings said. “It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling.”
Cummings, who will also run track at Ball State, said she feels her Saline Area Schools education has prepared her well.
“I’m going into next year eager to learn. I think the teachers and classes at Saline have helped me develop that attitude,” Cummings said. “I’m ready for the next challenge.”