The 2016-17 school year came to a conclusion with the commencement exercises for each of the school district's three high schools.

The celebration of graduation is a wonderful event; it is the culmination of 13 years of hard work, education and growth. From their first day as kindergartners in late summer 2004 to walking across the stage as high school graduates, our students have been on a developmental journey. Hilliard graduates in the class of 2017 have been educated by dozens of teachers, been supported by family and friends and likely have been in school for 2,250 days.

The district's mission – to ensure that each student is ready for tomorrow – is on display during our graduation ceremonies. Because of that, our graduates have the foundation for future success. Many are going to college, some are entering the workforce and still others are serving our country in the armed forces.

Regardless of the next chapter in their personal narrative, each student has the skills to be successful.

This past school year also marked other foundations for future success.

With the approval of a levy and bond issue in November, the district is on sound financial footing for the next several years. The district's campaign commitment of at least another four years between operating levies is supported by the treasurer's most recent five-year forecast.

Our commitment is to meet the needs of our growing district, but also to be fiscally conservative and responsible with residents' tax dollars. Our community makes a significant investment in educating the next generation. We recognize your efforts and are eager to partner with you.

The levy also provided the resources to add 1,000 seats to the district.

With the construction of the new Memorial Middle School, on schedule to open in August 2018, we are planning to accommodate our growing Hilliard family. We are planning on moving sixth-grade students into the current Memorial Middle School building, expanding the McVey Innovative Learning Center and creating new opportunities to serve our English Language Learners and gifted students.

All one needs to do is look around Hilliard to see the construction of new residential properties. With all of these new rooftops, we know we will continue to see increases in our student population.

According to the latest Ohio Department of Education statistics, Hilliard is the eighth largest school district in Ohio – and we keep growing. By adding additional classroom space and working to expand the College Jump Start program and other early-college options, we intentionally and purposefully are preparing for tomorrow. We never want to react; we want to proactively plan for what is to come.

The past year, we also built the foundation of our R Factor work with students. Through a partnership with Focus 3, led by Tim and Brian Kight, our students became familiar with the skills to better respond to the events in their lives.

The district also aligned values, behaviors and expected outcomes among buildings and departments, making us more effective and efficient at every level.

Our facilities also are a community investment.

This summer, residents will see roof repairs and replacements, parking-lot work and various other projects at our buildings.

Just like a house, each building requires preventative maintenance and repairs. We will paint classrooms and replace carpet in some older buildings, fix heating and cooling systems and replace kitchen equipment. Each project and repair protects or extends the life of our facilities – and it protects residents' investments.

Work on the stadiums at Davidson and Darby high schools also is an investment.

The turf – and the pad to be installed under the turf – will provide safer playing conditions for our student athletes. The new technology is designed to reduce impact stress and concussions. With a 20-year guarantee on the impact levels, the district is building the foundation for the future.

Finally, the greatest investment in the district is our teachers.

We have an amazing staff members who already are at work preparing for next year.

Although some might think teachers "have off" the summer, many formally and informally are preparing for the 2017-18 school year.

We have summer academic and professional development for teachers.

Already this summer, our teachers and staff members have worked with Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and other providers.

In August, we will play host to the second annual TedxHilliard event.

Hilliard City Schools also partners with the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio and the Grandview Heights and South-Western school districts to organize the Big Think. This three-day conference in early August provides professional-development opportunities for our teachers and serves as a great kick-off event for the resumption of classes a few weeks later.

The 2016-17 school year, like every school year before, served as a foundation for the future. As we pursue a "growth" mindset, our goal is to build upon the past to be better in the future.

We can, and we will, grow, learn and improve. We are committed to excellence and providing students an elite learning experience.

Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.