This story is sponsored by Mansfield City Schools Adult Education.
Adorned in black caps and gowns, the graduates of Mansfield Adult Education’s Aspire program entered the auditorium of Mansfield Senior High School on Thursday, June 1, greeted by family and friends recording on Facebook Live or taking as many photos as possible. The pride in the room was undeniable.
Following the procession, the ceremony began with Stan Jefferson, Superintendent of Mansfield City Schools, delivering a speech to the Class of 2023.
“Today, we celebrate your hard work. We celebrate your determination and we celebrate your unwavering commitment to your education. You have overcome obstacles, faced challenges head-on and persevered through it all. Your resilience is truly inspiring and serves as a testament to your strength and character,” Jefferson said.
Students listened attentively to the administrators on the stage, eagerly awaiting their moment to turn their tassels. Despite the diverse ages and stages of life represented in the graduating class, a clear bond was shared through nervous glances and whispers.
Their camaraderie clear, the students also stifled small giggles, smiles and nudges, especially when a peer was called for honors or a similar recognition. They looked upon each other as heroes, all in this together.
“This evening I’m asking you to commit to finding a friend, family member or complete stranger and let them know you believe in them. Help them to see in themselves what we always saw in you,” Administrative Assistant Charlene McPeek said in her speech.
Alicia A. Galilei took the stage to deliver a speech on behalf of the students, with her four children cheering her on louder than anyone else in the audience and whispering, “I just love her so much” to each other.
“I’ve learned so much in a short amount of time and it has impacted me forever. I hope this reaches the right people and I hope it shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep going. With that being said, I want to thank the ones who are pushing me to do so,” Galilei said.
A musical presentation followed, with instructor Brandi Walker singing and playing the piano alongside fellow instructor Jack MacFarlane on guitar.
The time to turn the tassels and celebrate was fast approaching. Soon enough, the students lined up to grace the stage and face the audience as they received their diplomas. Cheers erupted with each name called, and there was no shortage of support. Just like the beginning, every moment was captured and shared. Phone calls were made so that no one would miss out on hearing their loved ones’ names through the loudspeakers.
“I had to step back from work for a whole year. It wasn’t financially hard, it was just hard. I felt ashamed because I’m 44. It just felt like, ‘Why didn’t I do it earlier?’ It felt weird once I did, but wow I really did. And that makes me feel good,” graduate Corey J. Howze, Sr. said.
The 2023 valedictorian was Min Lee, and the salutatorians were Jacob Ryan Pelton and Grace Williams.
If you or someone you know is interested in returning to education, visit the Aspire website to explore their diverse programs. Serving Richland, Ashland, and Crawford counties, Aspire offers a range of opportunities to enhance your learning journey. Enroll conveniently online or by phone at 419-525-6380. Take the first step towards a brighter future today.
“I’m now considering the possibility of going to college down the road. I’ve achieved this milestone, so we’ll see what lies ahead,” graduate Grant T. Stout said.
Harley Atcher, Devin R. Blevins, Angel Marie Blevins, Lucas Bradley, Gerald R. Brock, David Buckland, Steven Clark, Austin Dylan James Crane, Abram Daugherty*, Keitha Davis, Barakatue Doucoure, John T. Ellis, Patrick Eutsey, Andrew Ray Flickinger, Rocky D. Frazier, Alicia A. Galilei, Barbara U. Gingerich, Ashyln Nicole Grauer, Amaadi Daquan Grose, Shawn E. Hess, Corey J. Howze Sr., Blake Elick Ison, Thimyus Dion Johnson*, Tessa Hope Lewis, Devon Nicholas Miller, Ethan Minch, Ethan Mowry, Camron Pardue, Madison Parks, Rosario Perez, Stephen Christopher Plank II*, Jessica Rigg, Lydia D. Schrock, Donovan Thomas Jamal Scott, Deshawn Arrmond Sharpe, Benjamin Shetler, Iann Christopher Simmons, Grant Tyler Stout, Gage Ronnie Swoape, Sandra Lorilee Thoman, Bobby Thurston, Dana Charlise Uter*, Kelly N. Walker, Carol Marie Ward, Jacob Michael Waters, Jerome Wilson, Tamara C. Wright