The Class of 1W4 was sent into the world as “Williamson Men” with words of encouragement from former governor Edward Rendell, who told the graduating seniors to “Go for it and don’t be afraid of failure. Define success for yourself. Don’t let anyone else do it for you.”
Commencement opened with an invocation from Bryan Wert, a member of the Class of 6W4 who was there celebrating their 50th anniversary.
President Michael Rounds, presiding at his first Williamson commencement, which was also part of the closing of the year-long 125th anniversary celebration, called the seniors “truly special.”
Eric Gardner, senior class president, in his address, had his classmates stand for a round of applause from the audience and said he and his classmates could never give enough thanks to those who helped them get to where they are now. He then passed the senior gavel to Matt Roy, president of the Class of 1W5.
After Rendell’s address, Rounds presented him with a steel cube manufactured by machine tool technology students as a gift of appreciation.
Next, Thomas Wisneski, vice president of education, presented student awards, followed by the conferring of diplomas and degrees by Rounds, with assistance from Wayne Watson 4W8, board chairman; Wisneski; Anne Hayes, registrar; and Walt Lee 7W8 Alumni Association president.
Russ Harvey 5W0 lead the group in the singing of the alma mater and Mark Specht 7W7, chaplain, gave the benediction.
Then, a new tradition began in honor of Williamson’s 125th anniversary. The 1W4 class gift, the Commencement Bell, a large brass bell mounted on brick piers near the flag pole, was used for the first time in what is planned to be a long tenure. Marching in a long line, each graduate walked up to the bell, with Tim Burbage, class adviser, standing nearby, and rang it one time, signifying that he is now an alumnus.
The ceremony concluded with many hugs and handshakes of congratulations and refreshments on the lawn.