Nearly 500 Saline Area Schools graduates venture into the future with advice to be bridge builders in these polarized times.
USA Today journalist Nathan Bomey, a 2002 graduate of Saline High School, gave the commencement address to the 488 graduates, their families and friends at Hornet Stadium Sunday. Bomey noted that despite the advent of digital technologies that are supposed to connect and inform us, Americans are increasingly isolated and polarized.
“We don't talk to people with different perspectives. We distrust. Some of us even hate. Call me naive, but I think some of the world's greatest challenges come from the fact that we don't understand each other,” Bomey said. “Often we don't understand each other because we don't even talk to each other.”
Bomey said his career in journalism has taught him the value of understanding people of different backgrounds and perspectives. He urged the graduates to resolve to meet people of different backgrounds, befriend those with different life experiences, and seek opportunities to learn from those with different opinions.
“As life goes on you'll encounter more and more people who are profiting from tearing others apart. Don't be one of those people. Be a bridge builder. Be someone who seeks to bridge the gaps between others. Be someone who learns to appreciate the differences in others,” Bomey said. “Because that's the only way we can move forward together. If you get to know people who aren't like you, if you consider life from their perspectives, you'll gain respect and appreciation for each other. And maybe, just maybe, you can work together to change the world.”
Bomey’s timely address was delivered to a school community divided over the district’s efforts to teach students about transgender and gender-nonconforming students in the district.
Saline High School Principal David Raft told the crowd he was glad to get to know the Class of 2019 – the 151st graduating class from Saline High School.
“Being a graduate of Saline Area Schools is a point of pride for me. It's a great honor for me to share that title with you,” Raft said. “You will have one thing in common. You are all Saline Hornets. Be there for each other. Support each other. And never forget the values instilled while you walked the halls of Saline Area Schools,” Raft said. “I wish all you the best in your future endeavors. Set your goals high, reach for your dreams and persevere through the challenges that may come your way.”
Class President Shay Milley thanked teachers, mentors, parents and friends during his address. He said the class of 2019 included opera singers, comedians, mechanics, chefs, farmers and engineers. It boasted 85 students with a GPA of 4.0 or better. Despite the diversity, Milley quipped, they class was unified on one front.
“Never before has Saline seen such a large body of high schoolers agree on something so unanimously and so unplanned. The moment we see a single snowflake, we bombard our superintendent with countless Tweets that demonstrate our persuasive singlemindedness,” Milley said, referring to the student body’s online campaigns for snow days.
Milley also attention to graduates like Spencer Siefker, David Zaren, Carter Koch, Robbie Fisher and Karolina Burtell, who are joining the military.
“Thank you fro doing what you are doing,” he said. “You are the reason we can live the life we want.”
The Class of 2019 boasted the highest advanced placement test scores in Michigan. Students in the class were awarded $107,000 in local scholarships. 211 graduates had a GPA of 3.667 or higher. There were 10 National Merit Scholarship finalists.