The Chardon High School class that lost three students in last year's shooting graduated this weekend. Ohio Gov. John Kasich delivered the commencement address.
For Ohio Public Radio, Nick Castele from WCPN reports that Kasich told graduates they'll become better people because of the pain they've endured.
Kasich recounted meeting first responders and school officials in Chardon shortly after the shooting. He recalled a tragedy he’d faced in his own life: a car crash that killed his parents in 1987. He said he grew from this experience, and that Chardon’s graduates would grow from theirs.
KASICH: “There is something about a struggle that makes us tougher, that makes us more compassionate, that makes us wiser.”
Kasich pulled the microphone from its stand and turned to face the graduates who sat behind him on stage. He urged them to work together with the unique gifts God had given them.
KASICH: “You’re part of a great symphony. An orchestra and a symphony that plays together that heals our world. You understand? It heals our world. This is not rhetoric or political gibberish, this is the truth. And this world needs healing. And if anybody understands the challenges and the need for healing, it is you.”
Last year’s shooting took the lives of three students who would have graduated this year: Demetrius Hewlin, Daniel Parmertor and Russell King Jr. To remember them, three roses were placed in vases on a table in the middle of the stage.
Two students injured during the shooting graduated: Nate Mueller and Nick Walczak, who now uses a wheelchair. Walczak received a standing ovation as he crossed the stage to be given his diploma. And he also received another thing: an embrace from the governor.