This weekend, 87 Grandview Heights High School students will enter the building as seniors and leave as graduates.
Members of the class of 2017 will collect their diplomas during commencement ceremonies set for 3 p.m. Sunday, May 28, in the high school auditorium, 1587 W. Third Ave.
"This is a really special class," said senior class adviser Kevin Richards. "These kids have been the leaders of our school, both in the examples they set in the classroom and outside the classroom.
"They've accepted the responsibility of being leaders and serving as mentors and role models for our underclassmen."
Sixty-five of the students have earned honors diplomas, Richards said. Sixty-two seniors earned recognition last month during the school's annual Academic Signing Day by earning at least $20,000 in scholarship offers.
All told, the 62 students collectively earned $11 million in scholarship offers.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony will be Christine Corbett Moran, a 2002 Grandview graduate.
Richards described Moran as "amazing."
"She spent 10 1/2 months last year working on the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica and is also an astrophysicist based in Los Angeles," he said. "Out of 18,000 people who applied, she has been chosen as one of 50 finalists to be interviewed for NASA's astronaut class of 2017."
"One of my goals when I became senior class adviser was to schedule special people as our keynote speakers," he said. "No offense, but in the past, we would have the superintendent or high school principal serve as the main speaker. Over the last few years, our students have heard from people like Jim Tressel and E. Gordon Gee.
"I'm really excited about having Christine as our keynote speaker because we haven't had many female speakers in the past," Richards said. "I think she will serve as an inspiration for our seniors that there is so much they can achieve."
Seniors Learin McHugh and Hope Wulliger also will speak.
"We had about 20 students who submitted a draft of a speech that a committee of teachers reviewed," Richards said. "They selected Learin and Hope for the honor of speaking to and for their class."
Wulliger said her selection was surprising, thrilling and an honor.
"A general theme of my speech will reflect on my experience of when I first came to Grandview sophomore year," she said. "I was in art class and my teacher basically said, 'Here are the supplies -- now it's up to you. You're the artist and you can take the paints and brushes and create any kind of art that you want.' "
That story is a metaphor for what all the teachers in Grandview do for students, Wulliger said.
"They are so much more than just teachers," she said. "They are your friends and mentors. They give us the materials we need to become whatever we want to be in life."
Before she moved to Grandview, Wulliger attended Pickerington High School North.
"I had 400 students in my class; now I have 400 in my school," she said. "At Grandview, the students truly are more than just names and numbers. The teachers really care and are able to do everything they can to make sure every student can succeed."
Wulliger, a standout on the high school volleyball team, will continue in the sport next year at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where she plans to pursue a pharmacy major.
The class of 2017 closed out its final day of high school May 17 by participating in the annual Senior Walk.
In its second year, the new tradition was expanded as seniors traveled to Stevenson Elementary School and Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, where they walked through hallways lined with teachers and students.
"Sixty-five of our seniors were taught by teachers who are still teaching at Stevenson," Richards said. "I think it was pretty emotional for a lot of our elementary school teachers to see the youngsters they taught one last time."
The seniors then returned to the high school, where they walked the halls for a final time before crossing Third Avenue to Bobcat Field for a celebration.
"These kids have been the leaders of our school, both in the examples they set in the classroom and outside the classroom."
-- KEVIN RICHARDS
Grandview senior class adviser