The Gahanna Lincoln High School class of 2018 has made its mark in and out of the classroom, according to school leaders.
Graduation ceremonies will be held beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 26, at the Jerome Schottenstein Center, 555 Borror Drive.
"The class of 2018 is a special class to me," said Bobby Dodd, school principal. "The students in this class are full of talent, whether it is in the classroom, performing on stage, or volunteering their time in the community."
He said this graduating class of 599, which includes 78 valedictorians, has shown a great deal of compassion and empathy for each other and the rest of the student body.
"The relationships they were able to build over their time at GLHS will always be remembered," Dodd said. "We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and what they have done for Gahanna Lincoln."
Sreekar Miriyala, class president and student council president, said the class not only holds a special place in his heart, but he also believes in the school, too.
"With a multitude of valedictorians, our class has made its mark academically at this school," he said. "Walking these halls, the past four years, it wasn't the motivation to outdo each other that pushed me to strive to reach my ambitions. Rather, the positive environment established camaraderie among us, pushing us to achieve more to make our friends proud, and supporting them to do their best, as well."
Miriyala said this type of learning environment is something unique and special that the class has experienced, and it's something he hasn't seen from other classes or schools.
"Within all of our activities, our spirit is what brings us together," Miriyala said. "We are truly Lions, and we take pride in our pride."
From state championships in track and field to the international DECA and bioscience winners, Miriyala said, class members' ambitions were put into action.
"This class is both welcoming and passionate. We care about one another, coming together when tragedy strikes," he said. "We have felt both success and sorrow from the beginning to the end, and it has made us stronger."
Student council member Reegan Pomponio said the class also stands out because students exceeded all fundraising goals for specific charities they sponsored.
During the 2016-17 school year, she said, student council raised $32,130, the most money the high school has ever raised for GahannaThon, a fundraiser for which all proceeds go to Nationwide Children's Hospital's Oncology and Hematology Unit.
When she looks back on her high school career, Pomponio said, she will be very grateful for the relationships she's made, whether it be working with good friends or learning from some great educators.
"Additionally, I will think about how being a vital part of the GLHS community can positively affect our community as a whole," she said. "For example, this past year I planned the GahannaThon student vs. teacher basketball game with my co-committee chair, Ankita Satish, and a mock car crash with co-committee chair Sara McCloud."
The GahannaThon event brought students, staffers and the community together to raise about $3,000 for pediatric cancer.
The mock car crash brought the Gahanna police and fire departments, as well as school clubs, to help prevent distracted driving.
"Both of these events were brand new, so accomplishing both was a great triumph and rewarding experience," Pomponio said. "On a more personal note, spending 10 extraordinary days last summer traveling across China with GLHS students and teachers was a major highlight. In addition, I'll remember playing in the Ohio High School Athletic Association District tennis tournament my senior year."
National Merit Scholar Connor Ryan, a four-time varsity cross country member, said his class has shown much dedication and ability.
"I have heard from multiple teachers that our class was one of the most hardworking they have seen come through the high school," he said. "Because our class was so large, it was always competitive, and we pushed each other to excel. I will always remember the fun that class was.
"Whether through cross-country or in classes, students always remember the friendships they make with others."