Nease grads encouraged to slow down, embrace failure at 2018 commencement


The friends and family members of the Allen D. Nease High School Class of 2018 gathered last week to celebrate their successes and mark the commencement of their future endeavors.

Held Monday, May 21 at the University of North Florida Arena, the ceremonies included the presentation of colors and a performance of the national anthem by graduating members of the concert choir, as well as addresses from school officials and graduates.

“To the class of 2018, congratulations,” said Tim Forson, superintendent of the St. Johns County School District. “This is a special day, and just I want you to think about this moment. Pause and appreciate the moment — the moment of being graduates of Nease High School.”

Noting that it can often be difficult to fully appreciate such moments when they arise, Forson encouraged the graduates to slow down and set their own pace as they move forward into the next phase of their lives.

Following the superintendent’s address, District 4 School Board Member Kelly Barrera offered her own words of wisdom, reassuring the graduates that failure is not to be feared, but embraced. 

“Use your failures as opportunities to learn and grow as a person,” she said. “Challenges and obstacles can be painful and difficult, but eventually they make us better people. They make us kinder, stronger, more passionate; they give us insight into others. … I encourage you to be successful by always being more — more than your fear or your failures, more than your circumstances — and to always give more than expected and be kinder than what sometimes people deserve. And lastly, enjoy each day that you’ve been given.”

Valedictorian Katherine Dykstra, who plans to attend Princeton University in the fall, closed the remarks by reflecting on her four years at Nease with fondness while expressing optimism for the future.

“Some people mark high school as the ‘best years of your life,’ but to be honest, these are just the best days of our lives at the moment,” she said. “No matter what your future endeavors may be, remember to do what you love and do it with passion. It is these experiences that will mark the truly remarkable years of your life.”