The Woodward Academy commencement ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 21 and celebrated the end of a journey for the Class of 2014. This academic school year saw 47 students either earn their high school diploma or GED certificate while attending WA.
The student body erupted once the graduates entered the gymnasium, setting the stage for the rest of the ceremony that consisted of two seniors being awarded financial help from the Lifetime Commitment Fund, two senior speeches, and the keynote address from Iowa Senator Steve Sodders of the 36th District. Read more after the jump and watch a video of the senior speeches.
Governor’s Scholar Recipient, Claudio Maciel, was the first to address his fellow graduates. “I came to Woodward Academy with a lost soul… and had to face things that no teenager should have to face. I did not think Woodward Academy would change that. My mindset on the first day was that I was just going to do my time and go back to my old ways.” But things changed for Claudio. He got his Knight, participated in student government, and eventually moved to the Phase 5 house where he really decided to change his life. “During this time, I felt myself starting to change. I began thinking about all the ways that my past actions had affected my family and realized that only I can make things different.” He went on to say, “before I came to Woodward Academy, I never thought about my future. Now, I can’t stop planning for it.” Claudio concluded his speech the best way he knew how, by reciting the Knight’s Creed with the entire student body. This is common for Claudio and for the staff and students at Woodward Academy, but for those unfamiliar with the dedication that Claudio has towards being a Knight, it brought them to tears. You can see his speech in the embedded video below.
Senator Steve Sodders gave the keynote address with the majority of his speech centered around one experience he had while growing up in the small town of Slater, Iowa. In the 6th grade, while his mother worked two jobs, him and his friends went to the town’s pool to spend the afternoons. One day, a neighbor of his, Eunice, asked for his help with her lawn and that she would pay him. As a 6th grader, he had visions of buying candy bars and agreed to help. After a week of pulling weeds and mowing the lawn, she got her checkbook out and asked what he was worth. Coming from a modest family, he had never been asked that question before and felt uncomfortable a dollar amount. He was perfectly happy with any amount that she was willing to pay him. The next moment stuck with him for the rest of his life. She said to him, “If you don’t know what you’re worth, how do I?” Senator Sodders brought this question to the Woodward Academy Class of 2014 and identified that this moment helped propel him into law enforcement as an adult and eventually towards politics as an Iowa Senator.
Seth Hollloway gave the second senior speech and quoted Dr. Suess’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go. You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” To Seth, that sounded like graduation. He went on to tell a story of how his uncle told him that if something was important, it was worth fighting for. He joked, saying that perhaps he shouldn’t have listened to his uncle because that’s all he did was fight. Seth addressed his fellow graduates with a proud smile and said that the future is waiting.
Check out the video below and to see pictures from the ceremony, click here to go to our Knights Pics website.