Albion Recorder & Morning Star News

180 graduate at Marshall High School Commencement

Albion High School graduate, Dr. Chris D. Coleman, is guest speaker, urges graduates to “focus on the task and the effort at hand, but don’t limit your possibilities”

By John Hendler

On a sunny, cloudless evening, 180 students were given their diplomas during the Marshall High School Commencement Ceremony on May 30 to honor the Class of 2024.

Following opening remarks from MHS Principal Dave Turner, class speakers Aidan McPartlin and Nicholas Ferreira shared some remarks.

Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Becky Jones said it was her “honor and privilege” to celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2024.

“You have experienced success and overcome challenges that have prepared you for whatever path lies ahead,” said Jones. “Through it all, you have demonstrated resilience, intellectual curiosity and a drive to make a positive impact.

“Looking out at the Class of 2024, I have no doubt that you will go on to achieve great things. Whether pursuing higher education, entering the work force or serving our country, know that we are incredibly proud of you and excited to see what the future holds. Congratulations once again, and may your futures be filled with great success and happiness.”

Jones then introduced the guest speaker, Christopher D. Coleman, M.D., a 1985 graduate of Albion High School.

An Albion native who attended Harrington Elementary and now resides in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., Coleman earned a B.S. in Psychology from Wayne State University, an M.S. in Microbiology from Michigan State University and an M.D. from Duke University. He is also an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

 “It is good to be home,” noted Coleman as he began his remarks. “First and foremost, I just want to congratulate the Marshall High School graduating Class of 2024. Go Redhawks!”

Saying it was “indeed an honor to stand before you today,” Coleman extended a warm thanks to Vivian Davis, to Harry Bonner Jr. to all the event officiants Turner, Jones and MPS administration.

“Thank you for the invitation,” said Coleman. “I won’t take long and further delay the real reason we’re here today and that is the highlight of the evening for you to flip that tassel. But I do promise one thing – I’ll try to do my best to keep the dad jokes to a minimum.

“I would like to share with you why I’m so honored and why I’m so pleased to be with you during this very special moment together, and why it has everything to do with you. I see a beautiful tapestry of glowing faces that possess such a diverse heritage and the limitless possibilities that are held within this magnificent sea of hopes and dreams. You are all the product of familial love and sacrifice, the collective efforts of educators and administrators and the fruits of the rich and living history of Marshall, Michigan and the surrounding region.”

Coleman noted that he is also a part of that history.

“At 17 years of age and nearly 40 years ago, I sat anxiously as an Albion Senior High School student donning my cap and gown and awaiting the directive to switch my tassel from ‘hard work paid off high schooler’ to ‘watch out world, here I come,’” he said. “However, today I further recognize that I also embody the ancestral weight of hopes and dreams of my great grandfather, Samuel B Coleman who in 1916 migrated from Florida with three generations including his parents. He later became one of three Black families that resided in Marshall. This was during the early 1900s. My grandfather, William W Coleman and his siblings hand built that small white house which sits beside the city municipal building, and he later became a graduate of Marshall Public Schools I believe in 1923.”

Coleman added that his father was born in Marshall.

“He became a longtime model citizen with the fabric of Albion,” said Coleman. “Know that your history separates and supports – it brings you to be able to affect individuals that you will never personally have direct contact with during your lifetimes. But know this – with that history with its firm preparedness, you are enough.”

He said as a college sophomore, feeling overwhelmed by his class demands and the angst of pending life decisions, that one day while in an English poetry course, he received “a wonderful gift” of hearing an original reading and author interpretation by Robert frost on his work “The Road Not Taken,” first published in 1915.

Coleman issued a reminder “that all things old don’t necessarily lose their meaning,” and promised he was not taking the graduates back to an English Lit. course.

“I am certain that during this season of academic commencements, this work’s theme of ‘blaze your own path’ is likely being regaled throughout this nation,” said Coleman. “This evening however, I borrow from the author’s self-reported intention which is slightly different from the frequent interpretation. I was going to read the poem, but again, I’m not going to take you back to English Lit., so you can refer to that on your time.

“Robert Frost acknowledged that his personal choice was indeed to follow the path less traveled. But then he stated that the essence of his message was to encourage the successful completion of your life journey wherever it may lead, be it the common path or the not. So, I leave you with this – follow your internal interest and secure a vocation that builds upon [that]. For if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

He urged the graduates to give their best daily.

“The moments that just passed will never come again,” said Coleman. “Focus on the task and the effort at hand, but don’t limit your possibilities. Life often has a way of doing that for you, so find your path to a yes whenever possible. Remain open to every experience regardless of it having a good or bad complexion.

“All experiences shape the person that you are becoming. Even less than pleasant experiences teach valuable life lessons. and lastly, forgive yourself for mistakes that inevitably will be made. Use the best information available at that moment, and partner with those more experienced and trustworthy. But missteps will happen. So, feel it, remember the feeling and begin to move through it and then do your best not to repeat the error. It has indeed an honor to spend this time together, and just know that we excitedly await your futures and again, congratulations.”

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