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Bridging the chasm

BHS graduates encouraged to support education


Stephen Buchenroth speaks to the Bellefontaine High School Class of 2013 during commencement exercises Sunday. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | MANDY LOEHR)

Stephen Buchenroth admitted Sunday when he spoke to the graduates of the Bellefontaine High School Class of 2013 that he doesn’t remember many of the speakers from the various graduation ceremonies he has attended over the course of his life.

A 1966 BHS graduate and 1974 University of Chicago Law School graduate, Mr. Buchenroth said maybe one specific speaker stands out from the rest of ceremonies.

“One of the speakers I do remember is Big Bird at one of my own graduations,” he said with a laugh during the commencement exercises at Dodd Field, during which the school graduated 202 students.

Despite the fleeting nature of graduation speeches, the Worthington resident said he hoped to at least impress a few key points to students through reading a poem called The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole.

The poem follows an old man’s journey across a vast chasm, and then tells of the man’s decision to build a bridge to span the tide once he gets across that rough place.

During the bridge-building process, the old man is questioned by another traveler, who asks why the man is building the bridge when he is so near the end of his life and may not even pass that way again. To that question, the old man replies,


“There follows after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This stream, which has been as naught to me,

To that fair youth may a pitfall be.

He too must cross in the twilight dim —

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

Mr. Buchenroth, a lawyer who has worked with the firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Columbus for 39 years, told the students that this poem has some direct relation to their lives, as they have just crossed one major bridge by graduating from high school.

“Now you’re on the other side of the chasm,” he said. “It was pretty intimidating when you first set foot in those halls of the school about four years ago, but now you have arrived.


ABOVE: BHS valedictorian Alexa Haushalter, left, and salutatorian Katie Vetorino are photographed at Dodd Field. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Bellefontaine High School Class of 2013 students give a round of applause for their families to thank them for their support, as encouraged by speaker Stephen Buchenroth during the commencement ceremony Sunday at Dodd Field.

“You’ve done so on a bridge built by others, from your teachers to parents, coaches, advisers and community members who have supported the school.”

As a result, the 2011 recipient of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Robert L. Hauser Award encouraged the young adults to remember to thank those who have helped them across the bridge.

Also, he heartened the students to keep the “bridge of education” in good repair for upcoming generations.

“If you stay in Bellefontaine, do what you can to support the schools and to make them better. If you move to another community, support those schools and be involved so that others can have the same types of opportunities that you’ve had.”

While the graduates move forward and cross other bridges in their futures, he asked them to try to listen to other viewpoints they might encounter along the way and also to find ways to help others in their daily lives.

Class President Emma Earick said while writing her speech, she found herself swaying from one goal that she had in mind.

“I wanted to steer clear of clichés like, ‘You’ll be in my heart.’ But it’s true; I will never forget my classmates.

“We grew up and we did it together. I’m happy and thankful for my class.”

She said her peers also came together this year to mourn the death of their fellow student, Joy Dela Peña, from leukemia in August.

“Just like her name suggests, she taught us to find the joy in everything we do,” Emma said.

Graduates wore orange ribbons pinned to their gowns in memory of Joy. Instead of offering a moment of silence for their classmate, the pupils participated in a “moment of Joy,” by cheering and clapping their hands before the presentation of diplomas.

Alexa Haushalter was recognized as the class valedictorian, and Katie Vetorino as the salutatorian. Rounding out the top 10 students are Whitney Rader, Kinsey Harman, Noelle Dunn, Courtney Chervenak, Austin Blankemeyer, Brandon Wilson, Kyle Harris and Evan Snapp.

Students who will be entering the military also were recognized: Tyler Allen, Alena Blair, Jacob Campbell, Joseph Cochenour, Cody Dapice, Carlos Guajardo, Moriah Haisley, Patrick Kunkle, Ryan McMillin, Nate Miller, Chance Miranda, Erik Mundy, Jonathan Plogger and Tyler Sheeley.


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