Every year I have the distinct honor of presenting the graduating class at our commencement ceremony. This sole act finalizes and celebrates the culmination of thirteen years of hard work exhibited from all of our graduates. I take this presentation responsibility very seriously because my words, representing the Piqua Board of Education and the Ohio State Board of Education, signify and confirm that all members of the graduating class at the ceremony have met or exceeded all of the requirements for graduation.
Many laws, policies and guidelines dictate graduation requirements. Piqua High School students are required to earn 21 credits, pass all sections of the Ohio Graduation Test, and complete six hours of senior service to meet graduation requirements. The 21 credits must include four credits of English, four credits of Math including one credit of Algebra II, three credits of Science including Physical, Biological and one advanced, three credits of Social Studies including American History and Government, two semesters of Physical Education, one semester of Health, Financial Literacy, and six credits of electives from the many courses offered at Piqua High School.
Piqua High School students also have the opportunity to earn a Diploma with Honors. To qualify for this diploma, in addition to the aforementioned requirements, a student must have an ACT score of 27 or SAT score of 1210, a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher, three credits of World Language, four Social Studies credits, four Science credits including Physics and Chemistry, four Math credits in a higher level course sequence, and one credit of Fine Arts.
Commencement focuses on the courses taken and the grades earned by a student in order to garner enough credits to graduate. These courses are taught by our talented and dedicated teachers who are experts in their specific subject areas.
But great public schools like Piqua City Schools provide so much more than a high quality classroom education. We provide an extensive menu of great out-of-the-classroom opportunities for our students. No matter if a student’s interests lean towards math and science, creative writing, economics, the arts, or world language, there are wonderful opportunities available. The community service and leadership programs available to Piqua students help them to see the world from a different point of view than that of a typical teenager.
Just within the past few weeks alone our students have participated at regional and statewide competition at Invention Convention, Destination Imagination, National History Day, and Science Olympiad. Our Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club of Piqua, Rotary Club of Piqua, Optimist Club of Piqua, and American Legion Post encourage and reward students for their academic successes, but they also provide a chance for students to demonstrate leadership and commitment to our community.
By participating in one or more of these opportunities our students may have their lives changed! The change may be dramatic and have a lifelong impact, or it may just provide the opportunity to meet new people and think about things in a different way. But in any event, these experiences help to better prepare our students for whatever comes next – after graduation.
When a student learns to cooperatively work among their peers to make things happen, they have formed a foundational skill that will serve them well in every aspect of their life. When a student learns to compete with other students while still at the same time building great relationships – win or lose – they understand that winning isn’t always the most important thing in life. Often in today’s world learning to lose with grace and dignity seems to be a lost art.
When students take the time to participate in their community, whether they are involved in local government, or civic groups, or even working with those who are in need or less fortunate, they learn to look outside themselves and understand that being part of the community, and the world, comes with responsibilities to contribute.
During our commencement ceremony I end with this culminating statement: “And now, by the power vested in me by the Ohio Board of Education, and the Piqua Board of Education, it is my honor to confirm that these young men and women, have met or exceeded all of the requirements for graduation and now officially enjoy the rights and privileges thereof.” In this one sentence I am truly presenting a class who have not only met the legal requirements for graduation, but have also built a foundation of skills and a passion to embrace opportunities for a successful and purposeful life! I am truly presenting the young men and women who will help guide our future!
Rick Hanes is the superintendent of the Piqua City School District. Rick continues to ensure that the Piqua City Schools show residents the “Good Schools, Good Value” that they are each day. You can follow him directly on Twitter @raheducator.