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Vilna School celebrates 2024 graduates

The Vilna School community celebrated this year's graduating students on June 1.

VILNA – “Success is not defined by a list of achievements, but by the courage to keep moving forward, even in the face of uncertainty,” said William Halfe, addressing the crowd during Vilna School’s graduation ceremony, held on June 1. 

Halfe is the valedictorian of the graduating class.  

“Let’s embrace the unknown with open hearts and minds, knowing that every experience, whether big or small, will shape our future,” he said. 

During his speech, he thanked his father and everyone who supported the graduates - from educators, parents, friends, and family members.  

“Your encouragement and belief in us has made this moment possible. As we celebrate today, let’s remember to carry the spirit of gratitude, resilience, and hope with us wherever we go.” 

For Halfe, graduation is not about the end result, but a reflection of the students’ growth, resilience, and determination. Congratulating his class, he said, “Our journey doesn’t end here, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter filled with endless possibilities.” 

Aspen View Public Schools’ board trustee for the area, Donna Cherniwchan, also offered advice to the graduates. 

Recalling her own high school graduation, Cherniwchan says while she didn’t remember all the speeches, “There’s two words of advice that I want to share with you... through the years, I’ve seen this to be true to me.” 

First is to keep good company.  

“You’ve heard the saying. You become like the five people you spend the most time with,” said Cherniwchan. As they move forward, their circle of friends will change, but the graduates will also have more control over who to spend their time with. 

“So, surround yourself with good people, kind people, and hardworking people,” said Cherniwchan. 

“The second thing is... forget about the word luck.” Clarifying, she noted that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.  

“In other words, lucky people generate their own good fortune,” thus, she encouraged the students to keep working hard. 

The graduating class also requested a special person to give a speech, as an expression of their gratitude to him. This person was Ryan Stinn, who formerly worked as a bus driver. 

“I don’t know why they picked me. They are probably just picking on me again,” Stinn joked as he laughed along the crowd before addressing the graduates. 

Stinn told the graduates the next step in their life will be about them and what they do. 

“Don’t rush into things. Take your time, please. Don’t be like me,” said Stinn, explaining he had a very challenging life, and jumped from job to job. But among those jobs, Stinn said he is grateful to have been allowed the opportunity to meet the graduates. 

“You guys brought me back from basically a bizarre world. I was completely messed up,” he said. “And when I started driving you guys around, you guys... got me into a form... where I was happy. And I thank you all for that - every one of you.” 

He encouraged the students not to give up. 

“Either try again or try something different,” he said. “Just because you tried something, you don’t have to keep on trying.” 

He added, “Your path is not set in one spot.” 

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