Plymouth Class of 2009 looks to the future


Graduates told to embrace life ahead



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Retiring Plymouth Regional High School Spanish teacher Marla Okrant receives a standing ovation from students, parents and families as she goes to the podum for her commencement address on Saturday. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
June 11, 2009
A full crowd of friends and family surrounded the 200-strong senior class as they were honored this weekend. The message resonating throughout the morning was the road ahead, with students urged to start fresh and embrace the decisions ahead.

Class President Connor Barry welcomed students, faculty and family with a show of pride in the capabilities of his classmates as they go forward. "If there is a class ready and well-equipped to face (the real world), it is this class," said Barry. "We are the hope for this world. We are the lawyers,artists, teachers, mechanics, soldiers and parents of the years ahead, and it is my distinct pleasure now to graduate with them."

SAU 48 Superintendent Mark Halloran then introduced the Third Honors, Salutatorian and Valedictorian honorees, who collected awards and also had the opportunity to address their class. Danielle Berry, an active member of the theater and music departments, three-sport captain and student government leader, received Third Honors; Marie Yepez, National Technical Honor Society President and volunteer at the SAU 48 office earned Salutatorian honors; and Karalynn Lucille Mastin, a member of several co-curricular groups, School Senate and National Honor Society, was honored as Valedictorian.

The message of the three honorees was clear, telling students not to dwell on the past and take advantage of what lies ahead. "I'm not looking back, and I hope none of you are either," said Berry. "Embrace the inevitable, because life marches on and it's not going to let anybody turn back and make changes."

Mastin used Star Trek to make her point on the growth on their class and the journey awaiting them. "Many memories have been created and we have experienced much that have turned us from the fresh recruits we were freshmen year to the crew we are now," said Mastin. "Even though we split up next year…those bonds we formed as a crew, a family, will still be there.

"Life after high school: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Class of 2009. Our ongoing mission: to acquire strange new knowledge; to seek out new friends and new cultures; to boldly do what no one has done before. Live long and prosper."

Principal Bruce Parson then took the podium to thank the Class of 2009 for their hard work. "You have handled yourself with class and dignity and have set a wonderful tone of leading by example," said Parsons. "It was amazing to watch you work as a team, and more importantly, look like you had fun doing it. You have set the bar up for other classes to follow."

Parsons also recognized those who had helped the senior class on their way. "We are privileged to have a conscientious support staff, a talented faculty, a supportive school board and community, and most importantly , the support of parents, families and friends," he added.

Mary Defosses and Carol Walker were recognized for their many years of service to the Plymouth High School community, as the two longtime faculty members are retiring after over half a century of combined experience. Joining them will be longtime Spanish teacher Marla Okrant, who was asked to provide the commencement address as well as she completes 21 years with Plymouth. Upon taking the podium, Okrant was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation before speaking to the students, thanking them for all they'd done for her and making her two decades at Plymouth among the greatest experiences of her life. She too would stress for the students to look to the future, reminding them that whatever they chose to do, be it college, the military or a job, they have a clean slate heading out into the world.

"What will matter is what you do from this day forward," said Okrant. "I urge you to fill your plate with wonderful deeds and hard work that will make you and your loved ones proud.

"Thank you for the honor you've given me today. Life has so much to offer, embrace it and enjoy every minute of it. Best of luck to you all."

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