Sault Ste. Marie Area High School graduates of 2022 turned their tassels to the left yesterday afternoon, empowered by the exceptional lessons and values they have instilled in each other, inspired within the faculty, and modeled for graduates to come.
“Traditionally, we have one speaker at graduation,” said Principal Carl A. McCreedy. “This class is anything but traditional. This class, that sits before you, is extremely driven; they are competitive; and they are intelligent. At the top of this class are three young ladies, with three unique high school experiences. They have three different paths after graduation. They also have three transcripts. Amongst them, every single letter grade is an A. None of those three transcripts contain so much as an A-minus. At the top of the class, these three students have GPAs of 4.095, 4.093, and 4.092.”
Magdalene Bauer, Emily Kiekhaefer and Delaney Cushman spoke to the student body in order, deeming class valedictorian Bauer first in line. She is the daughter of Sault Ste. Marie City Commissioner Ray Bauer and his wife, Joan.
Bauer has earned the Mathematics Department Award, United States Marine Corps Musical Excellence Award, Bertha V. Knox Memorial Scholarship, and the John Philip Sousa Band Award. She will attend Central University this fall to pursue a degree in music education.
“We all have the capacity to be successful,” Bauer told her class and audience. “I went out and surveyed seniors. I had them write on these orange note cards and answer the question: ‘What do you believe it means to be successful?’"
"I received really good results," she said. "Some of the more common answers included having a good job, having a sense of accomplishment, or being happy with where you're at in life. Then, I came across a specific person's answer that totally summed up what I, personally, think it means to be successful.”
That note card read:
“Being successful is different for everyone. It could mean a lot of different things, from taking your first steps to any simple or monumental goal you want to achieve. The goal you set out to accomplish is yours to achieve and succeed at.”
Bauer concluded success to be just as uniquely diversified as the three of them, standing on stage.
Other messages advised peers to live life to its fullest, and take advantage of the “here and now.”
Kiekhaefer was next in line to the podium. She is the daughter of Michael and Kate Kiekhaefer.
Kiekhaefer swam, ran, and worked hard during her four year high school career. Come fall, she will study law at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
She also earned the Bertha V. Knox Memorial Scholarship, in addition to English Language Arts Department Award, University of Michigan Girls’ Award, and LTCS/TC Award.
“As much as I want to have something funny, inspiring and thought provoking to say to you guys, that’s not what this speech is about,” said Kiekhaefer.
She went on to quote Mark Twain in stating:
“An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it.”
“Take this opportunity to try the ‘new thing,'" said Kiekhaefer, eager to grab life by its horns. “Join the interesting club or reach out to the person who sits near you in class.”
She asked that fellow graduates pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams to change the world for the better, together, one and for all.
“I am so proud of all of you,” said Kiekhaefer. “Congratulations, again, to the class of 2022.”
Harvard University’s very own incoming freshman, Cushman, took over to close distinguished student speeches.
She is the daughter of Vonda and Michael Cushman.
Cushman has been awarded the Bertha V. Knox Memorial Scholarship, Blodwen Johns Award, and BPA Outstanding Student Award.
During her time at Sault high, she delved headfirst into the Sault Area Career Center Business Professionals of America (BPA) team.
A BPA Facebook page post from late-April stated:
“Delaney is a senior at Sault high this year, and is competing in Intermediate Word Processing. A fun fact about her is that she is terrified of spiders – even the smallest of ones. She joined BPA as a way to learn more about business careers, and to challenge herself in a topic she didn't know a lot about. She currently serves as the president of our chapter!”
Cushman has big dreams of becoming a trauma surgeon one day, but nothing appears too big for this graduate... assuming spiders are not involved.
First thing first, like tackling Harvard courses in neuroscience.
“Without risk, there is no reward,” Cushman said.
She is certainly no stranger to both winning and losing, having opened a couple disheartening university rejection letters over past year. But this minor inconvenience did nothing to hinder Cushman's acceleration. She applied anyway.
When all said and done, Harvard University won over the signature of one of Sault high’s most prized alumni.
“Everyone here has grown immensely in four years, becoming the people I am honored to close this chapter with,” said Cushman, flipping that final page to Cambridge, Mass. setting. “I would like to say thank you and congratulations to all of my classmates, and those here with us today. We have finally made it to the next step in our journey.”
The round of applause that followed may have shaken the room approximately 147 caps and gowns, diplomas in hand.