Class of 2013 bids farewell to General Amherst High School


By Ron Giofu


Approximately 200 graduates got their diplomas last Thursday night as the Class of 2013 is saying farewell to General Amherst High School.

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Valedictorian Michael West said it was 1,388 days since the graduating class first entered high school. He said concerns from their first year ranged from finding their classes and getting food out of their braces. In their last year, it was more about financial issues and admission offers.

Despite it all, West said they will forever remember their days at General Amherst.

“We will never forget our roots or where we came from,” he told his fellow graduates.

Coming from a “school surrounded by a community,” West said he and his classmates are “no longer students, but graduates.

“We are at the crossroads of our lives except the crossroads have far too many options,” he said. “To live is to learn and our lives are one long test.”

His generation is a resilient one, he added.

“The graduating class is strong and this is the key to our success,” said West. “We mustn’t be afraid to be different because those are the people who make history.”

Greater Essex County District School Board chair Helga Bailey, herself a General Amherst graduate, told the graduating class they are supported.

“We’re proud of you. We believe in you. We look forward to your future accomplishments,” said Bailey, who is also trustee for Amherstburg and LaSalle.

Bailey added that both parents and staff deserve thanks and encouraged students to enjoy every step of their journey into the future and to make good choices.

Graduates were also encouraged to believe in their dreams, believe in others and believe in themselves.

“If you don’t think you can do it, you probably won’t be able to it,” she said.

Board superintendent Lynn McLaughlin said the success the students had in high school is a positive reflection on the public school board.

“You make us look fantastic,” said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin told graduates they shouldn’t keep their goals quiet but instead “yell it out” to allow others to know and hold them to it.

“Saying it out loud makes it even more real,” said McLaughlin.

Principal Hazel Keefner said the graduating class “exceeded my expectations” and while it was a difficult year at points, “students made their voices clear in a respectful manner.”

Whether it be collecting cans, playing sports or supporting classmates that were ill, the students represented the school well, she said.

“Follow your dreams and do the very best for yourselves,” Keefner told the students. “You are always welcome to come back and visit General Amherst High School.”

Vice principal Jon Proctor noted his four years at General Amherst mirrored those of the graduates, as Proctor is also leaving the school as he will become principal at Walkerville in September.

“You are a credit to yourselves, you are a credit to the staff, you are a credit to your families,” Proctor told this year’s graduates.

Proctor encouraged the students to support each other even after graduation.

“It takes a team to make sure everyone is safe. It takes a team to get through your lives,” he said.

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