LORAIN – A journey that started four years ago ended in the most beautiful way possible on Tuesday, May 24, when 374 graduates — including 49 students who have already earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Lorain County Community College— walked across the stage at George Daniel Stadium under a blue sky with hundreds cheering in the stands.
It was standing room only in the arena used to seeing capacity crowds for sporting events. But this time, it wasn’t a matchup on the gridiron – it was the Class of 2022 that brought together what felt like the entire Lorain community for one special night.
After a send-off week that included a Senior Awards Ceremony, Senior Picnic, Senior Clap-out, and Senior Parade, the night’s graduation ceremony was the culminating event that so many seniors worked hard for since first walking the halls of Lorain High School. They didn’t reach this milestone in their lives alone, and that sentiment was carried throughout the night as Lorain High staff and student speakers spoke about the kinship that makes Lorain High — full of grit and pride — a family of Titans.
Class of 2022 Valedictorian Danielle Bowyer
Class of 2022 Valedictorian Danielle Bowyer said the family atmosphere and robust support system of teachers, community leaders, and cheerleaders who thrive on seeing students succeed make Lorain High special.
“The sense of unity and support in our community helps push us, as students, toward success,” she said during her speech. “…Our community is not only special because of the support systems we host, but we are special because of our diversity. Each mind in front of me offers its own contribution to the world that cannot be replaced. Our opportunities, passions, interests, and drive all differ from one another, whether we like it or not. As successful members of Lorain’s community, we work best by understanding each other and acknowledging the differences each individual faces.
“Our community is undeniably ridden with hardships, but our students have steel grit and persevere past every obstacle with the help of their support systems.”
Bowyer, who earned an Associate Degree from Lorain County Community College and will enter college with 84 college credits on her transcript, will enroll at Kent State University in the fall. While a very accomplished graduate, she said every graduate, regardless of their path to George Daniel Stadium, is worthy of praise.
“I am thankful to be a part of such a diverse community that sees the value and abilities in every person,” she said. “… Congratulations to all of the people that had a difficult time making it to this day, we are all proud of every person here, and I am honored to share this day with you all.”
It is hard to believe that Class of 2022 Salutatorian Parker Kopronicka, who walked the halls of Lorain High with confidence and carried that sense of belonging over to his role as an anchor on Lorain TV 20, could be described as a student with struggles. But he said struggles with anxiety early in his freshman year caused him to transfer to Lorain High midyear, which turned out to be a life-changing decision.
“Before I came to Lorain High, I knew about the reputation,” he said during his speech. “We all have seen the stories, heard the outside opinions. But that reputation was quickly dispelled as soon as I walked through the door. Not only does our school employ some of the best teachers in the world, but we also have the most talented and great students around. The combination of those two things creates a powerful culture.
Class of 2022 Salutatorian Parker Kopronicka
“That culture has helped me to not only survive but to thrive. I feel beyond prepared to take the lessons I have learned, both inside of the classroom and out, to propel me throughout life.”
In his final address to the Class of 2022, Lorain High Principal Pat Coleman said it was essential to foster a sense of family and community in the building because each student deserved a team of giants willing to stand with solid shoulders, ready to hold up students in any way they could.
“Our team at Loran High School respects you as young adults,” he said to students. “We listened to you even when that was really hard to do. We care about you and care about your families. We are proud of you.”
Coleman encouraged students to live their best lives and be giants in the world so others could stand on their shoulders. He said that students must find their place in the world, leave their mark, and know Lorain will never turn its back on a Titan.
“Lorain will always be here for you, and you are always welcome home,” he said.
Because as graduate and senior class spokesperson Mia Hilko said during her speech with a nod to the famous line “Once a wildcat, always a wildcat,” from the movie “High School Musical.”
“Once a Titan, always a Titan.”