Sarah Day, secretary of the Vermillion High School senior class, stood behind a podium, faced her peers and reminisced.
"As a child, Vermillion was the center of my world. I couldn't comprehend things like size or location. What I could comprehend was the love I felt for my family and friends, the safety I felt living here, and the feeling of home that encompassed Vermillion," she said during graduation exercises for the Vermillion High School Class of 2010, held Sunday in the DakotaDome.
As she grew older, she said, that perspective began to change.
"Through family trips to California, Texas and the northeast, I discovered the possibilities the world had to offer. I grew as a person through these experiences. Every time I returned to Vermillion, however, I found myself viewing it through refreshed eyes. The feelings of love, safety and home were still present – I just appreciated them more," Day said.
She said she and other members of the VHS Class of 2010 will always have fond memories of the years filled with learning and fun they have spent together.
"As we go our separate ways, use these memories as an inspiration to make the most out of every opportunity," she said. "You will find yourself shocked with the discoveries you will make about the world and about yourself, much as my third grade class was shocked to discover there was a world outside Vermillion. Embrace your discoveries. However, wherever your life may lead you, never forget where you came from. Hold the feelings of love, safety and home close to you."
The Rev. Ed Anderson, keynote speaker at Sunday's commencement exercises, offered sound advice, that was also based on something he's passionate about – baseball.
Rules of the game that lead to success include working fast, throwing strikes and changing speeds.
"Working fast, throwing strikes, changing speeds can apply to all of life," he said. "Working fast doesn't mean you rush through things to get them done. It means you don't procrastinate. Don't leave things until the last minute. By working fast, it allows for those little and sometimes big interruptions in life."
By staying ahead of the game, Anderson said, the graduates will find their less stress in their lives. "It allows you to live in the moment, and it helps you to focus your attention on what's important right now."
Anderson urged the Class of 2010 to "throw strikes" by "always giving it your best.
"Throwing strikes in life really does get you noticed. It gets you better grades, and promotions in your job or in the military," he said. "Throwing strikes means you do your job well, and you trust the people around you. That isn't always easy to do."
The graduates can "change speeds" in their lives by not being boring and predictable.
"If you're laid back, learn how to push a little harder," Anderson said. "The world is an unpredictable place most of the time, so don't be surprised. In fact, you can be the surprise when you change speeds. Changing speeds means bringing excitement and enthusiasm and personality and humor with you wherever you go."
After all of graduates had received their diplomas, Sam Miller, the Class of 2010's state student council president, noted that he and his classmates were, in a sense, walking away from everything they've held closely for 18 years.
"And that's pretty sad. But I think it begs the question – what exactly are we saying goodbye to? After this, this group of 92 people," he said, describing the graduating class, "may never gather together again.
"But, the way that we influence each other, the gifts and skills and words and passions that we share with each other, is really what defines our relationship," Miller said, "so, in that way, we really aren't saying goodbye to anyone or anything. We will just take our experiences with us wherever we go."
He noted that he and classmates likely will be separated by time and distance.
"But the things that we learned from each other, the real learning that we did in high school that transcended textbooks, will stay with us," Miller said. …"While we may leave the Class of 2010, the Class of 2010 will never leave us."