Over 300 graduates receive diplomas at MHS

Terry RogersEducation, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

On Thursday, 308 Milford High School seniors entered the next chapter of their lives at graduation (Photo by John Mollura)

On Thursday, May 30, under bright, sunny skies, 308 Milford High School seniors began the next chapter in their lives as they accepted their diplomas at Bernard E. Briggs Stadium. Principal Seth Buford welcomed the hundreds sitting and standing throughout the stadium who were there to cheer on the successes of each graduate.

“I have told you this many times your hard work and dedication to Milford High School paid off. Many of you have performed on stage, competed on the field and participated in countless competitions, earning recognitions at the local state and national level,” Buford said. “Many of you have earned certifications giving you a head start on your next adventure. I have all watched all of you grow. For me who has come to know the goals and dreams, encourage you. To carry those passions forward and our community will reap the reward. But always remember wherever you go, you will always have a home here at MHS.”

Superintendent Dr. Bridget Amory congratulated the graduates, telling them that the evening was a culmination of their accomplishments as Milford Buccaneers.

“As you reflect on your experiences and look towards the future, remember the hard work, the friendships that have been forged, and the challenges overcome. Above all, remember the unyielding belief in yourself that has brought you to this moment today. Your perseverance, your resilience and determination have helped to define you as Milford High School graduates,” Dr. Amory said. “Our world eagerly awaits the impact you will make. Go forth with courage, determination, and a steadfast resolve to pursue your dreams. We have the utmost confidence in each of you to make a positive impact and be a leader in our greater community. On behalf of the Milford Board of Education, congratulations on your accomplishment.”

Buford introduced Lila Schmidt, Class of 2024 President, stating that she was an active member of the community, dedicating many hours volunteering through her membership in National Honor Society and as an officer in Nursing Government. Schmidt served as a student representative for the Milford School District Board of Education and completed many AP and dual enrollment classes while completing her Public and Community Health pathway. Schmidt will attend the Honors College at College of Charleston, studying urban planning and sociology.

“It has been a year of new memories with new friends, reminiscent talks with old classmates and very late nights to finish missing work due at 11:59. I apologize to all the teachers for the senioritis epidemic. But at the end of the day our class always pulled through,” Schmidt said. “When first trying to write this speech, I decided to look to a teacher that I and I know so many of you often look to for advice, Miss Vann, but I totally got distracted and forgot to ever ask because as many of you know I am a proud yapper. We somehow ended up starting to talk about her upcoming high school reunion. She said, “I don’t even remember who my valedictorian was, but I do remember who was mean and who was nice to me.” That made me think about the people who left a memorable impact on me. “

Schmidt stated that made her realize that none of the students who were graduating today would remember what cords they wore around their neck or who surpassed them in grades.

“What we will remember are the times we came together and how we made each other feel. Who smiled at us in the hallways or made our bad days better. Who was honest and acted with integrity. Who made the choice to be rude for no reason. Class of 2024 and listeners in the stands, your actions, as little as they may seem, have impacts on the people all around you,” Schmidt continued. “As morbid as it may sound, we are all writing our obituaries with the choices we make and how you treat others. How we want to be received is up to us. With so many inequalities in this world, this is our unifier. And as sad as it will be to walk out those gates and wave goodbye to the past 12 years, graduating has given us all the privilege to reinvent ourselves, if we wish to do so. Let us use this shared power to seek greater connections more meaningful conversation and use kindness as our draft. It’s never too late to be the best possible version of ourselves because at the end of the day, how we treat others is what matters. We have the choice to write our own legacy. Are you going to be the bully or the friend? Thank you, classmates, teachers, coaches and Milford School District for all the amazing memories. Class Prez out!”

Salutatorian Georgia Willey has also been an active member of the school community, completing multiple advanced placement and dual enrollment courses. Willey is a four year varsity cross country, indoor and outdoor track athlete. She served as an active member of the National Honor Society and Student Government. After completing the Allied Health pathway at Milford, Willey plans to attend Delaware State University seeking a degree in aviation in their professional pilot program.

“I hope everyone is excited to be here today as we certainly deserve it. Everyone here has earned the right to graduate today, and you should be proud of it. Walk with your shoulders back and chin up because you earned it. Today, I would like to share an epiphany that I had in the weeks leading up to today. Thirteen years, 156 months, 4,748 days. I never thought high school graduation would ever come fast enough,” Willey said “All my peers, myself included, have long been waiting for this time to come constantly throwing around the statement. “I can’t wait.” Inside and outside of school. Those three words follow me. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for summer. I can’t wait to live on my own. I can’t wait to grow up and start my own family. I can’t wait to finish my senior year. We spend our whole lives waiting, waiting for something bigger, something better to happen. Something that will supposedly put a pause on our current situation and make everything better.”

Willey then asked why everyone waits for something monumental to happen and then, when a great thing does happen, they look past them toward the next great thing

“Nobody wants to realize that we only get 75 years, 75 years of the wonderful thing that we call life, 75 years to be the change, 75 years to make what we want to happen happen. Before you know it, your siblings are graduating, too, and your parents are getting older, you stop hanging out with your friends every day. And Christmas mornings become just another day on the calendar. Because time keeps going and people move on,” Willey said. “And just like that in the snap of our fingers. 18 years of that is gone. Today we celebrate and recognize our dedication to have 12 years of school and the accomplishments that come with it. But today also marks more waiting for some of us. More years of our lives we spent waiting, waiting to enter the real world and become adults. Though many mark our 18th birthday as the day they enter adulthood, I disagree as in these upcoming months we’ll all move on to life after high school.”

Many students will go on to college, enter the Armed Forces or enter a trade, Willey continued. The next few months were going to be a whole new life and world that those getting diplomas today were not used to.

“You might be scared about what’s next. You may feel fearful of the possibilities and the unknown. But never let that feeling hold you back. It’s time to embrace the change and go after what we’ve been working all these years in school to do it. That’s an uncomfortable feeling,” Willey stated. “Especially right now, for if everything is easy or expected, change will never happen for the betterment of yourself. We spent our whole life and for what? To end up in the same place as the person who went after what they wanted, the same place as a person who lived in the moment. And so I urge you, Class of 2024, stop waiting. Stop waiting for the perfect opportunity to arrive or the event you’ve been anticipating and go after what you want. Time is everything and we only have so little.”

Valedictorian Carley Mackert demonstrated excellence inside and out of the classroom. A four year varsity member of the field hockey and swim team, Mackert served as senior captain for both teams. She also completed many AP and dual enrollment courses, donated her time as a member of the National Honor Society and with the Special Olympics organization. Mackert will attend Alvernia University where she will play field hockey while majoring in occupational therapy.

“We made it to the very day we have all been waiting for, all the late night study sessions, assignments due at 11:59 and all the early morning alarms for this very day – May 30 2024. We have been through so much together,” Mackert said. “I remember March 13, 2020. Getting the phone call that school will be closed for two weeks. What we thought was two weeks, turned into us missing our eighth grade graduation, our first day of high school and our very first homecoming, but that obstacle did not stop us but only made us stronger. We have faced so much diversity and so many challenges together, which I think makes our class quite special and unique.”

Mackert had a hard time thinking of the message she wanted to provide to her fellow graduates until she heard someone say that the night of her graduation would eventually just be a memory and she said it hit her hard.

“I can remember us all saying “I can’t wait till I’m 16 and I can drive, graduate high school and head to college. We, as a society, tend to look to the future instead of living in the moment. Friday Night Lights, Homecoming, Prom, cafeteria grilled cheese, and pep rallies are all now memories, something that we will never experience again. If we don’t live in the moment, we will miss out on some of the best experiences that are right in front of us,” Mackert said. “A personal example of mine is this past year. I was going through the motions every day trying to count down the days until the school year was done. I was miserable going to school for seven hours each day and was ready to be done. That was until I started work based learning with Mr. Davis, where I got to work with special kids in occupational therapy. This moment made me want to be present and slow down time. Because one day this will be a memory and an experience I’ll never forget.”

Through her work with other students, Mackert developed more of a purpose each day. She felt that these students taught her to live in the moment and made her a better person.

“The lessons they taught me are greater than any trophy saying valedictorian could ever be. So, I’d like to say thank you to those students I had the privilege of working with who changed me forever and showed me what really matters in life and how to always be the light in the darkness,” Mackert said. “We will never be a kid or high school student again. But if we live in the moment, everything just won’t be an experience, it will be a long lasting memory. This moment in our lives is now going to be a memory however, not just any memory but an unforgettable one. So, our story does not end here but the first chapter has been written. I wish you my fellow classmates success on writing your next chapter. Don’t forget once a Buccaneer, always a Buccaneer It’s now time for each of us to start beginning to write our next chapter. Make sure you take the time to live in the moment while writing it.”

Andrea McPike, Milford High School Teacher of the Year, provided an inspirational message to the students.

“As I stand before you tonight, humbled and honored, I am reminded of the incredible journey that has brought you all to this moment. It is a journey marked by resilience, perseverance, and unwavering determination. A journey that has shaped each and every one of you in profound ways,” McPike said. “Throughout your high school years, you have been encouraged to pursue your passions, to chase after your dreams and to never lose sight of what truly matters to you. And as you prepare to embark on the next phase of your journey, I urge you to hold fast to those dreams to nurture them with care and to let them guide you as you navigate the twists and turns of life’s paths. But, beyond the pursuit of personal achievement, consider the legacy you will leave behind the impact you will make on the world and the lives of those around you. an indelible mark indelible mark on the fabric of our school community, demonstrating resilience, compassion and a commitment to excellence.”

The graduates were encouraged by McPike to remember that although success outside of high school was often measured by markers like grades, salaries or job titles, that true fulfillment came from actions, passions and values. She encouraged them to let their heart be their compass, guiding them toward a life that ignites their spirit.

“Of course, pursuing your passions may not always be easy. There will be challenges, setbacks, and moments of doubt along the way. But it’s during these times, that your love for what you do will sustain you, fueling your perseverance and reminding you of the joy that awaits on the other side of adversity. Do not be afraid to dream big, to set lofty goals and to pursue your passions with everything you have. Believe in your ability to make a difference and to inspire others. To do the right thing toward success and never lose sight of the fire that burns within you,” McPike said. “As you embark on this next chapter of your lives. I want you to recognize what you are capable of. You are destined for incredible things, and the world is waiting for you to make your mark. So go forth with confidence, with courage and with a heart full of ambition. And never forget the only limits that exist are the ones you place on yourself. One last thing to remember, life is like a Snapchat streak. Keep it going. cherish the moments, don’t let it disappear. So, here’s to the Class of 2024 May your future’s bright as your phone screen at 3am. Congratulations and enjoy.”

Upon conclusion of McPike’s speech, Buford presented the Class of 2024 before diplomas were handed out to each student.











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