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Words of Wisdom from the Class of 2023

June 7, 2023

The Rockwood School District held commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2023 in late May and early June, celebrating nearly 1,800 graduates.

At those ceremonies, some of our graduates offered important messages and words of inspiration to family members and staff in attendance, as well as their fellow students.

Here are some words of wisdom from these graduation speakers.

Marquette High (May 31)

Marquette graduates Carter Gleason and Molly Levine speak to the crowd at their commencement ceremony. “None of us is the same person we were four years ago. That accomplishment, finishing that journey, is a success to be proud of. Even when we have trouble seeing success, others see it in us, and they helped us get here. The people who have supported us most have been our teachers. Isn’t it amazing that every single one of them saw success in us? Our teachers have always been the ones that have seen the best in us, and it’s as a credit to them that we sit here today. The Class of 2023, we’re probably going to change the world. I cannot wait to see the amazing things we do. I can’t wait to see how we overcome our failures, and I can’t wait to see the ways we continue to value success in each other. We all technically walk across this stage alone, but we graduate – just as we’ve journeyed – together.” – Carter Gleason

Carter was a member of the Marquette Speech and Debate team for four years, served as president of Mock Trial and participated in Model UN, Key Club and National Honor Society. He volunteered as an election judge for the St. Louis County Board of Elections and represented Marquette at the American Legion Boys State program, where he was elected president of the senate and selected to represent Missouri as a senator at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. Carter is headed to Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, as a Johnson Scholar. He plans to major in politics with possible minors in poverty and human capability studies, law, justice in society or French.

“We have challenged ourselves academically, athletically and artistically. We were all eager to make our own mark and, four years later, it is clear that we – the Class of 2023 – have done just that. The Class of ’23 consists of caring and compassionate individuals. We have collectively made an effort to do good. We have become well-rounded, thoughtful young adults. For that, you should be so unbelievably proud of yourself. I urge you to not only capture major milestones but also minute moments. Take time to appreciate the scenic snapshots life has to offer, and don’t forget about the people you have cheering you on behind the camera. Those are the ones you want around, trust me.” – Molly Levine

Molly served as editor-in-chief of the Marquette yearbook, performed in the pit orchestra for school musicals and was a member of National Honor Society and Rock Climbing Club. She plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Eureka High (June 1)

Eureka High students Ava Lamb and Phil Calvin address the crowd at graduation. “None of us stand alone. And none of us could have made it through high school without the help of someone around us. We alone control our destiny, but we don’t fight our battles alone. We cannot help but look upon our surroundings with a new perspective we didn’t have as 14-year-olds. As one journey ends as we graduate high school, a new one begins. As Eureka students, it is not in our destiny to refuse the call to be kind and compassionate toward others. Class of 2023, I know that no matter what our journeys are, we will be capable of triumphing over any struggle because we are the heroes in our own story.” – Ava Lamb

Ava served as president of French Club and GSA during her time at Eureka High, as well as serving on the Principal’s Advisory Committee, Speech and Debate team and a member of Eureka Equity. She played violin in the Eureka, Lafayette and Marquette pit orchestras as well as playing with the All-Suburban and St. Louis Civic orchestras and earned multiple gold and silver medals at the State Solo and Ensemble Festival. She curated an exhibit for the St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum and completed an internship for the Missouri Historical Society. Ava will attend the University of Oxford in England, where she plans to study philosophy, politics and economics with an eye toward pursuing a doctorate in international relations.

“I want to congratulate us all for making it to this momentous day. We’re finally here, ready to take on the world. We’re about to embark on a new journey. I’m here to tell you that you know you the best. You may not know what your future holds but, whatever you want to do, if you trust yourself, you can make it happen. I want you to see that your future is bright. Your future is yours, and no one can change that but you. We must remember that setbacks are just stepping stones to success. So embrace them. Success is about finding happiness or fulfillment in whatever you want to do. So don’t be afraid to take new risks and try new things.” – Phil Calvin

Phil was involved in football, track and field, wrestling and band at Eureka High. He was the school’s Glory of Missouri Award recipient for Equality this year, a Gold Standard Award recipient and participated in multiple community service projects with the Wildcats football team. Phil plans to attend Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, to continue his academic and football career.

Rockwood Summit High (June 2)

Rockwood Summit graduate Liliana Tarticchio addresses the crowd at commencement.“To dream big doesn’t necessarily mean to have the most money or be the best of the best at everything you do. I think it means to do what you want for yourself, right now. With humility comes kindness, happiness and agreeability. These are all things we can choose to have. If you can be the person in the room that makes everyone else’s day a little bit better, then you have already accomplished so much. Kindness is a brave act. I want us to realize how beautiful the world is and how big of an opportunity life itself is. Please live life with humility, be in the moment and don’t spend too much time caring about what people think about you.” – Liliana Tarticchio

Liliana was involved with newspaper, yearbook, tennis, National Honor Society and Senior Committee at Rockwood Summit. She served as editor-in-chief of the Pinnacle yearbook and president of the Quill and Scroll Honor Society. Liliana plans to attend the University of Mississippi to major in political science on the pre-law track, with a minor in Spanish.





Lafayette High (June 3)

Lafayette High graduates Josiah Hickman and Shreya Ramalingam address the crowd at their commencement.“Each one of us has an inner voice guiding us to something, and the most important thing is to not let other people’s opinions drown it out. You all must have the courage and intuition to follow your inner voice, to pursue your wildest dreams. You are the only one who can do it. If you only follow the footprints of others, you can never make any of your own. Follow your heart because only it knows what you truly want to become. And only you can make it happen.” – Josiah Hickman

At Lafayette High, Josiah was active in the National Honor Society and the National Society of Black Engineers, in which he served as a parliament member, and was founder of the school’s Rocketry Club. He earned Missouri Bright Flight, the Missouri President’s Award for Educational Excellence, as well as a George Washington Carver Award for being in the top 10 percent of his class. Josiah earned a scholarship from Amazon to study computer science in addition to serving a paid industry internship. He plans to attend the University of Southern California, where he will major in aerospace engineering.

“We have the most compassionate teachers, counselors and staff that have personally put in the effort to change our lives and education for the better. We build each other up in our Lancer community. Hopefully all of us can see how much we’ve looked up to each other, looked out for each other and stayed connected with each other. So look around, hug, thank and celebrate the people you’ve grown up with these past four years. Today is our day, Class of 2023.” – Shreya Ramalingam

Shreya plans to attend Vanderbilt University, where she will major in public policy studies. She was an active member of Speech and Debate Club and finished third in the state in Original Oratory as a senior. Shreya also ran four years for the Lancers’ cross country team and enjoyed performing classical piano concerts outside of school.