Hats off to the Class of 2016

Date Published: 
June 3, 2016

Hundreds of smiles, and a few tears, filled the football stadium at Indian River High School’s 47th commencement on May 30.

Principal Bennett Murray congratulated the 193 graduates of the Class of 2016. In that diverse group, everyone is going somewhere different: 86 percent to post-secondary schools, 2 percent into the military and 11 percent into the workforce.

Coastal Point photos • R. Chris Clark

Speakers recalled their fond and challenging memories from the past four years.

Class President Caroline Lingenfelter encouraged students to be strong against adversity and not to let one mistake hold them down.

“If you follow your heart to pursue a path, that will make you happy,” she said. “Don’t be too nervous to start something new.”

She shared the significance of once finding Delaware sand in her swimsuit while visiting Colorado.

“Even if you travel across the country and don’t return to Dagsboro, remember your roots. … And remember, it’s never too late to come home,” Lingenfelter said.

Salutatorian Kayla Huebner thanked the parents, teachers and fellow classmates for each helping to mold the people the graduates have become.

“We will gain wonderful opportunities to make new memories and gain new experiences, Huebner said. “Great things lie ahead.”

“We’ve laid the foundation, and now it’s time for you to grow,” Murray responded.

Despite earning top grades, Valedictorian John Douds was humble: “Each of you has special talents, skills exceeding any of those a valedictorian may have. … What can all of you do better than anyone else?”

He named the artistic and athletic talents within the Class of 2016, all of which, he said, will contribute to a greater society.

“None of us is perfect, but as a class, we can be. As a class, we’re the best of everything,” Douds said.

Student James Brannon was also recognized for being a close third in class ranking.

Six students were awarded more than $8,000 total in scholarships from the Indian River High School Alumni Association, for actively working to make the school a better place. The IR Pride Scholarship was awarded to Emma Engel, Cameron Goff, Sarah King, Madison McCabe and Gunnar Moldrik. The Marla Banks Daisey Memorial Scholarship was presented to Caroline Lingenfelter.

Sunbeams pierced the sky over the senior song medley, and the students sang a re-invented alma mater: “Our pride comes from the water where river meets the bay.”

The guest speaker had an impressive background in corporate production, but he’s better known and loved as teacher and soccer coach Steve Kilby.

More than the boys’ and girls’ incredible soccer records, Kilby said he is proudest of the students who developed as people.

“Start giving back and help influence those younger than you,” Kilby said. “Always lend a helping hand and have compassion.”

The real world can be scary, and “You’re losing the protection and comfort of high school,” said Kilby, who was once downsized from his job, but later climbed from a minimum-wage position into a successful management career. He later turned to teaching and has worked for the Indian River School District for more than a decade.

“I’m a very proud member of this faculty,” said Kilby. “To see the diversity that exists in the building is amazing, and you should be proud of where you are tonight.”

He told them to embrace the joys of life.

“If you’ve made it this far, you have persevered,” Kilby said, but don’t let it stop, because people will need that drive forever. “Perseverance is an option. You can decide to persevere. You can decide to succeed.”

“Success is not a gift. It is a challenge to use what you have already achieved,” agreed IRSD Superintendent Susan Bunting as she certified the graduates. “Please remember that you have achieved much.”

Invited to read the graduates’ names was agri-science teacher Jennifer Cordrey, the school’s and district’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.

After the final graduates sat down, diplomas in hand, Murray congratulated them and released them out into the world.