The next act begins now. High school is over for 162 Norwalk teenagers.
With a flip of the tassel Sunday, the Class of 2009 turned from seniors into graduates, students into adults.
Thunderous applause filled the Norwalk High School gymnasium as the curtain officially fell on this stage of their lives. Parents screamed the names of their children. Friends applauded and whistled.
It wasn't the same old song and dance at this graduation ceremony.
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Graduation speakers rely on a variety of approaches -- humor, inspirational words, anecdotes-- to say memorable things for graduates to remember.
But a born entertainer, Clayton Walter tried something different -- he broke into song and danced majestically while doing so.
Walter, the Class of 2009's valedictorian, played Cornelius Hackl in the school's performance of "Hello, Dolly!" Substituting some of his own lyrics, Walter sang an interesting and spirited rendition of "Put on Your Sunday Clothes."
"It was one of my songs from the show, so it wasn't too hard to change it," Walter said.
Soon after he exited stage left, Walter returned to the stage to receive a handshake and his diploma. One by one, his peers did the same.
Like members of a Broadway production that has wrapped up, Norwalk graduates will soon be off on new adventures, accepting new roles in lives filled with whole new casts of characters.
Take Walter: He heads to The Ohio State University, where he will study English and film.
Or there's senior class president Carrie Hinckley. She's off to Lorain County Community College to study ultrasound technology.
Storm Bowling is enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He ships out in two weeks to Parris Island, S.C.
Tony Williamson will attend the University of Cincinnati to study mechanical engineering. Tyler Miller will study the same subject, but at BGSU Firelands.
Kristeena Long is undecided and plans to travel to Florida this summer. Panama City is nice this time of year.
Emmy Leon, meanwhile, is enrolling at Kent State University to study history and education.
Many different characters, many different futures.
Sunday's graduation was the Norwalk High School Class of 2009's farewell performance.
But look for big things from them in the years to come.