When the Columbus East High School graduating class of 2016 looked back on their four years at East, the only thing they found to be constant was change.

Kaleb McCarter recalled in his salutatorian address several changes that happened in high school, such as the transition from textbooks and paper assignments to a predominantly paperless learning environment.

McCarter also pointed to societal changes that affected the students’ high school experiences — such as the advent of smart phones and other technology and larger cultural shifts that affect the entire country, such as the upcoming presidential election.

Although those changes were occasionally difficult to deal with, Nick Andrie, East’s valedictorian, said he believes the uncertainty experienced at times equipped the students with an invaluable characteristic — integrity.

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As they struggled through high school to more clearly define who they are and who they want to become, Andrie said the students, teachers and other staff at East helped the class of 2016 learn to navigate the changes that come in life without compromising their characters.

Now, as they move into the future, East Principal Mark Newell advised his now-former students to hold on to the integrity they cultivated in high school as they make the transition into the “real world.”

Although life will inevitably pose new changes and challenges, holding firm to a strong moral character will help the new graduates overcome any obstacle in their way, Newell said.

Throughout their four years at East, Andrie said Newell applied one piece of advice to students in every situation — take care of yourself, take care of others and take care of the school.

Even though they might not always have a school to take care of, Andrie said those three Olympian Expectations could serve as guiding light for the graduates’ future, regardless of the changes that come their way.

“As we move into our futures, it is important that we remember everything that we experienced here at East and stand solid on the values we have learned at this school and from each other,” he said.

Columbus East Class of 2016

Graduates: 334

Valedictorian: Nick Andrie

Salutatorian: Kaleb McCarter

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.