More than 1,100 Hilliard seniors are expected to graduate next week in commencement ceremonies at the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of the Ohio State University.
Seniors from Darby High School will be the first to graduate at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28.
Bradley High School seniors will graduate at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, and Davidson High School seniors will graduate at 7 p.m. Friday, May 30.
Superintendent John Marschhausen said all three classes of 2014 represent "a talented, diverse and accomplished group of graduates."
"These graduating seniors truly represent Hilliard's desire to embrace, empower and inspire students to achieve at the highest level," Marschhausen said.
Marschhausen said the graduates represent a broad spectrum of scholars, athletes and inspiring artists and musicians, but all "truly embody our continuing vision for preparing every student to be ready for tomorrow."
"The class of 2014 is a model of the 'Hilliard way' as they have celebrated our diversity, personalized learning and seized opportunities," Marschhausen said.
Bradley High School
District officials expect 341 Bradley seniors to graduate May 29.
The class valedictorian is Rachel Baker and the salutatorian is Mitchell Pearson.
ThisWeek was unable to reach Baker for an interview, but according to the school district, she plans to attend Ohio University and major in social work.
Baker is the senior class secretary and the communications officer for the Bradley chapter of the National Honor Society.
Baker also was Bradley's first National Merit Scholarship finalist; the school opened in 2009.
Pearson said he will attend Ohio State University and plans to major in chemical engineering.
"I think Hilliard schools have offered me a unique experience that not every student gets," Pearson said. "I know there were classes I got to take that aren't offered in other districts ... and the classes I was able to take ... directed me to engineering and going to Ohio State."
Pearson said his commencement address will focus on how he and others need to learn many things on their own and without the benefit of simply looking it up on the Internet.
"We grew up in a world where we could Google almost anything ... but after we graduate, we won't be able to just Google every answer," Pearson said. "We will have to experience a lot on our own."
Bradley Principal Mindy Mordarski is overseeing her first class of graduates.
She lauded the academic and civic achievements and contributions of the class of 2014.
"They have made an amazing impact on Bradley High School and their legacy will surely continue in the years to come," Mordarski said.
Darby High School
District officials expect 350 Darby seniors to graduate May 28.
The class valedictorian is Ellen Slater and the salutatorian is Deepthi Nacharaju.
Slater said she plans to attend the University of Chicago and major in economics.
"I loved it at Hilliard schools and my classes have prepared me for college," Slater said.
Slater said her commencement address will be about how learning to ride a bicycle.
"Even though I've been good in high school, it will be time to take off the training wheels and learn to ride a bike the adult way," Slater said.
Nacharaju said she plans to attend Duke University and major in biomedical engineering.
"I think I received the best possible education, both academically and in my character development," she said.
Nacharaju said her commencement address will focus on the importance of having goals.
Darby Principal Joyce Brickley said the class will leave behind "a special legacy."
"This class has excelled in academics, arts and athletics (and) the standard they have set as catalysts for positive change is extraordinary," Brickley said. "They will be missed and we are excited for them to share their passions with the world."
Davidson High School
District officials expect 431 Davidson seniors to graduate May 30.
The class valedictorian is Jason Ng, the salutatorian is Elizabeth Sarkel and the historian is Kenny Nguyen. All three will speak at commencement.
"It's really been amazing," Ng said. "All my teachers have provided me with an environment conducive to learning.
"I found that education (in Hilliard schools) is whatever you make of it."
Ng said he did not want to reveal the subject of his commencement address, but he intends to deliver an insightful and inspiring message.
"I want it to be a surprise," he said.
Ng plans to attend Duke University and major in engineering, though he has not decided what kind of engineering.
Sarkel said she is well prepared to begin college at Wake Forest University, where she intends to major in biology as a Reynolds Scholar.
"I enjoyed all my classes (at Davidson) and think I was offered the best in academics and extracurricular activities," said Sarkel, who has played the cello since the fifth grade and plans to play in a college orchestra.
Sarkel said her commencement address will focus on how she plans to handle an expected increase in stress at college.
Nguyen said he came to Hilliard schools in the fourth grade and was pleasantly surprised.
"I kind of felt isolated (at my former school district) because it seemed everyone looked after themselves," said Nguyen, the senior class president. "I forgot my lunch the first day and another boy offered me snacks. ... I found everyone (since then) to be unified and compassionate."
As class historian, the No. 3 rank in the class based on GPA and a designation unique to Davidson, Nguyen will provide opening remarks, introduce other dignitaries and also address the class.
Nguyen said his remarks will focus on his belief that because some mathematic puzzles have more than one correct answer, there can be more than one "right path" in life.
Nguyen plans to attend Purdue University and major in biology-neuroscience and physiology.
Davidson Principal John Bandow called the class of 2014 "remarkable" with 58 seniors earning a GPA of at least 4.0.
"Our seniors are venturing to universities throughout the country and beyond," Bandow said, and others are choosing to serve our country in the military.