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Blair Oaks seniors praised by counselor

Class of 2014 called special

Ben Campbell, at right with a Superman on cap, enjoys a good laugh with his classmates as Blair Oaks guidance counselor Jill Shanley reads out a list of accomplishments and memorable moments by his class.

Ben Campbell, at right with a Superman on cap, enjoys a good laugh with his classmates as Blair Oaks guidance counselor Jill Shanley reads out a list of accomplishments and memorable moments by his class. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Smart. Competitive. Funny. Determined.

Those were the adjectives used to describe the Blair Oaks High School Class of 2014, whose members graduated Sunday in a commencement ceremony held at the Falcon Athletic Complex.

Speaking to parents, supporters — and to the graduates, themselves — Guidance Counselor Jill Shanley said every class has its own unique personality.

She first realized how special the 2014 group was three years ago.

“It was after the Winterfest assembly, your freshman year. You guys were amazing,” she told the students. “You didn’t win the Winterfest spirit stick, but you should have.”

Shanley noted this year’s seniors include three valedictorians, multiple state champions and numerous students who competed in Final Four and State Championship games. Of the 105 students students listed as graduates in the ceremony’s program, 17 have perfect GPAs. The district’s second-ever National Merit Scholar, also is a graduate this year.

The class also earned more than $1.6 million in scholarships, she said, a line that drew applause from the crowd.

Among the graduates, 94 plan on attending some kind of post-secondary school. Five plan on entering the workforce and three are headed toward military service.

She said being around such a competitive group hasn’t always been easy.

“You worry entirely too much about things I consistently tell you will not matter in the long run. You are so amazingly competitive that you can be slightly unpleasant when you lose,” she told them, which drew a chuckle from the crowd.

But she credited the group for being a “class of leaders” for the rest of the school. And she said in times of distress — illness, injuries, loss — they helped one another.

“Everyone of you stepped up,” she said.

“From the first day you walked into the building as freshmen, it was clear (you were) determined to leave your mark on Blair Oaks High School,” she said.

Other speakers at the commencement exercises sounded a similar themes.

Julie Graessle, the middle school guidance counselor who served as commencement speaker, credited the graduates for their intelligence, talent and success.

“You’ve accomplished so much,” she said.

She said she’ll miss the students who drop by her desk to cry or laugh. “And some of you were crying because you were laughing so hard,” she teased.

More seriously, she told them: “You have the potential to make your dreams come true.”

“I am not saying it is always going to be easy, because it won’t,” she said. “You might hit a lot of road blocks on your way. But you have to decide how to get past it. I hope that where ever your dreams lead you, you will always remember where you went to school and cherish it.”

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