NORMAN — The Lloyd Noble Center on the University of Oklahoma campus donned the colors and insignia of the Norman High School Tigers as family, friends and graduates gathered to celebrate the Class of 2013’s commencement.
Short addresses by Principal Scott Beck and graduates Grace Klumpp and Hong Jeon were punctuated by performances from the Norman High concert choir and senior Shawn Reidy’s original song, “High Side”.
Following a moment of silence for the state’s tornado victims, Beck greeted the class and their guests with some brief remarks.
“Tonight is a celebration of one major phase of your educational process, the conferring of the high school diploma to students who have successfully completed the requirements for graduation from Norman Public Schools. Though we know this was largely the accomplishment of the students, they did not do it without the support of faculty, staff and parents or mentors,” Beck said. “For parents it’s easy to confuse tears of pride and excitement with those of sadness that our babies actually do grow up.”
Klumpp’s and Jeon’s speeches were a mix of exuberant humor, nostalgia and wisdom exceeding their youth, with both students focusing self-improvement and reinvention.
“We’ve heard time and time again that we are the future, but I believe we are the leaders of today. We have shown we understand that to be a leader is simply to care about others and serve them,” Klumpp said. “I want to remind you all that you are no longer the slacker, the scholar, the geek, the jock or the student council president. You have a fresh start, a clean slate - the person you’re surrounded with the most is yourself so be someone you like.”
Jeon dedicated his speech to his father, whom he said was supporting him from halfway around the world.
“It is what we take with us that defines our character. Academics wasn’t what made high school special, it was how I grew as a person that makes this a special place,” Jeon said. “Success is awesome, but failing is just as liberating. Real success has never followed a route of smooth sailing, and a real sense of fulfillment comes from having enough passion to challenge whatever challenges you.”