The end of senior year may not have been what the graduates of Trimble High School were expecting, but Valedictorian Dillon Banik and Salutatorian Cameron Kittle have not only made the best of a bad situation, they’ve stayed true to their goals and are ending this phase of their lives at the top of their class.
“Once I set a goal, I am determined and will put in the work necessary to achieve that goal. I do not like disappointment,” Cameron said. “This is a goal I have had for many years, so I really feel a sense of accomplishment earning the title of Salutatorian.”
Dillon is also a goal-oriented student.
“To me, this achievement means that I have finally achieved my goal I have been pushing toward my whole life,” Dillon said. “I have always dreamed of standing in front of a crowd to represent my class as valedictorian and to finally achieve that makes all the work worth it.”
Though Dillon and Cameron will not be physically standing in front of their class during graduation, both have pre-recorded their speeches that will be part of graduation that was filmed by Nelsonville TV Cable. Students were able to receive their diplomas individually while abiding by social distancing orders. The entire graduation will be edited together for students and families to view.
When deciding on what to focus on for their speeches, both students let the current pandemic inform their message to their peers.
“With the pandemic, my speech was shaped to talk about how we are in a bad situation and it is tough for all of us, but it isn’t all bad, as my classmates and I will be stronger after going through it,” Dillon said, something Cameron agreed with.
“It gave me purpose for writing it, because I wanted to make sure to express how you can’t take your time together for granted,” Cameron said. “I wrote about how our class is so close; we don’t have small groups. We are all connected with one another like no class I have ever seen. And we have always been able to push through adversity, so I believe we have handled the challenge presented by this pandemic very well.”
Cameron is proud of the Class of 2020 for dealing with the challenges that the pandemic has presented, but he, like many of his peers, wishes that they could have had a traditional end to the high school experience.
“It really wiped out the fun parts of our senior year, the parts everyone remembers the most. No memories for us like prom, graduation, or just spending these last few weeks with our classmates before heading into the world. That is really what has made it tough, but I think we have dealt with it really well,” Cameron said.
Dillon agrees that it has been tough, but says that the support of the community have made things better for the seniors.
“Many people in the community have been doing everything they can from changing profile pictures to support seniors to trying everything they can to help us have a graduation,” Dillon said. “This means everything to me and all the other seniors. It shows that we are being recognized for our hard work despite everything.”
Looking towards the next phase of their lives both students are heading on to higher education within the state of Ohio. Dillon will be studying mechanical engineering at Ohio University, with the eventual goal of studying biomechanical engineering to work with prostheses and medical devices – a goal influenced by his late grandfather who struggled for years with a faulty prosthetic.
“ I want to help make prostheses that function properly and help others that are like my grandpa,” Dillon said. Dillon credits his love of engineering to his high school science class with “Mr. Gifford”, who brought in a guest engineering professor from OU. “After listening to him talk about engineering, I realized that I could use my love for math and science to help people.”
Cameron is heading to Ohio State University in the fall, where he plans to study aviation while continuing his football career as a Buckeye.
“Ultimately, I plan to finish my aviation degree and become a commercial airline pilot,” Cameron said.
Both Dillon and Cameron agreed that they wouldn’t be where they are now or moving towards their next goals in life without the support of their parents.
“They have been giving me a lot of moral support while I do schoolwork through the pandemic,” Dillon said.
“I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without my parents, my teachers, principals, and superintendents, my coaches, and my friends. So I would like to say ‘Thank You’,” Cameron said.