Ready for the real world

Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 05:43
ERHS grads excited for next chapter

Ja’Von Cross couldn’t get out of Eagle River High fast enough.

“I’m just ready to start life,” Cross said minutes before becoming one of 171 members of the ERHS Class of 2012.

While the vast majority of his peers took four years to earn their diplomas, Cross, 17, managed to complete the feat after just three years of high school. Cross’ dad, Jesse, said Ja’Von sacrificed summer fun in favor of summer school.

“He got up every day just like he was going to school,” Jesse Cross said following graduation ceremonies on Thursday, May 10 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

As he snapped photos of his son posing with friends and teachers outside the Sullivan, Jesse Cross beamed as he reflected on his only child’s accomplishments.

“Very proud,” he said.

Now that he’s a graduate, Ja’Von said he’ll likely either join the Army or enroll in college. Either way, he said he’s in a hurry to get the next phase of his life underway.

“I’ve got to make money,” he said.

A similar desire to take on the world was expressed in class speaker Darion Heald’s speech. Heald said members of the Class of 2012 should recognize that their opportunities beyond high school abound.

“Dream big. The sky really is the limit,” Heald said.

While the ceremony was a chance for graduates to look back on four years of friendships and hard work, Heald said he prefers to think about on what lies ahead.

“As jovial as these memories may be, we must now focus on our future,” he said.

During his graduation message, teacher Tom Klaameyer took the focus off the students and put it firmly on others. After having each graduate don a cloth blindfold, Klaameyer spoke about the importance of putting individual needs aside in favor of family and friends.

“Ultimately, your happiness in life will be more about the relationships you forge than your paycheck,” he said.

A first-year principal, Lang said he forged a special bond with the Class of 2012. Lang taught many of the graduates as freshmen when he was an English teacher at the school. After seeing the group mature over four years, Lang said he’s expecting big things.

“They’re a really positive class,” Lang said.

Heald said he’s positive each member of the class is capable of greatness.

“Each and every one of you has the potential to do something amazing,” he said.

Heald then turned to a well-known philosopher — Jedi master Yoda — for some inspirational words.

“Do or do not,” he said, quoting the “Star Wars” hero. “There is no try.”

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