Gahanna Lincoln: Graduation slated May 29 at Schottenstein Center

Columbus Academy ceremony slated June 7 at Hondros Field

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group

Gahanna Lincoln High School is expected to graduate 561 seniors starting at 9:30 a.m. May 29 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center, 555 Borror Drive in Columbus, with limited seating for guests.

Due to reduced capacity requirements issued by the venue and Franklin County Public Health because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, each senior will receive four tickets for guests, said Judy Hengstebeck, the district's communications coordinator.

Gahanna Lincoln High School

Of the 561 seniors, she said, 99 are valedictorians, with a grade-point average of 4.0 or higher; 151 will receive honors diplomas; four are National Merit Scholarship finalists; and 10 will enter the military after graduation.

Jessica Williams, Gahanna Lincoln principal, said the class of 2021 has been truly remarkable in the face of so many changes and challenges.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve as their principal,” she said.

Williams said the class has had exceptional leaders in and outside the classrooms.

“They will all be missed,” she said. “We wish them all the best in their future endeavors."

In the history of Gahanna Lincoln, Jason Raymond, Lincoln student council president, said, he’s not sure one could find a group of students as resilient.

“We were finishing our junior year at home, starting our senior year online, struggling to grasp what the world was becoming and what it meant for our futures,” he said. “(With) college deadlines coming up, our teachers went on strike. At that point, we were all too familiar with social movements as Black Lives Matter came to its height.”

Raymond said the social movements and elections almost polarized the class.

“Through all of that and more, we still finished even though everything in our lives and in the world was telling us not to,” he said. “Everyone told us, ‘You’ll have a great story to tell one day,’ which we refused. Because it implied that the life we had today was only good in retrospect.”

Raymond said the class made it fun, and his classmates did everything they could to be happy and feel like seniors.

“Whether it was crowning homecoming court without a dance or Spirit Days we shared through our Zoom screens, we didn’t let the world beat us,” he said. “Class of 2021 pushed through to the end.”

Columbus Academy, 4300 Cherry Bottom Road in Gahanna, is scheduled to hold its graduation ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. June 7 at its stadium, Hondros Field.

Bob Lee, Columbus Academy director of communications and marketing, said the class of 2021 includes 104 students, who are scheduled to attend 72 colleges and universities in 28 states.

Debbie Keeran will conclude her 42-year career at Columbus Academy as the 2021 commencement speaker.

He said 25 students plan to stay in Ohio, whereas 79 will attend out of state. He said 59 students will attend a private college, with 45 students planning to attend a public university.

Lee said the class has 19 recruited athletes who plan to participate in their sport at the college level.

Debbie Keeran, who decided last fall to retire in June, will conclude her 42-year career at Columbus Academy as commencement speaker.

“Being the 2021 commencement speaker is an absolute privilege to me,” Keeran said. “Personally and professionally, Columbus Academy has been the heart and soul of my world and my family’s for 42 years, and if I can impart a fraction of what this unique place has meant to me in my speech, I am thrilled, elated and proud to do so.”

While having many roles at the academy, Keeran said, most of her 42 years have been spent as assistant director of admissions for the lower school and as an early-childhood teacher.

“I find it ironic that I will be imparting to seniors some of the same things I would talk about with 4- and 5-year-olds: be kind, make good choices and share; however, when you are older, these words of advice become more powerful, more deliberate and more demanding,” she said. “My hope is that I speak directly to the seniors and share a few real-life scenarios of encounters they may have as they embark on the new challenges college will present.”

Keeran, a Sunbury resident, said she would deliver her speech in the only way she knows how – with storytelling, some audience participation and, above all, humor.

“This last year has tested everyone's ability to be resilient, to adapt to change and to be patient,” she said. “I want my speech to be uplifting and full of promise. I hope the Academy class of 2021 dances out of the stadium with pride, appreciation and an obligation to carry forth the high standards, both in and out of the classroom that Academy has instilled in them.”

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla