Oasis graduation: ‘The world is yours to conquer’

Mayor Ken Tedford congratulates Oasis graduate Andrew Catlin at the school’s commencement exercise May 23.

Mayor Ken Tedford congratulates Oasis graduate Andrew Catlin at the school’s commencement exercise May 23.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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It was a graduation ceremony mixed with laughter and apprehension … with handshakes and hugs … with dry eyes and tears.

The 41 graduating seniors from Oasis Academy College Prep reflected on their years at Thursday’s graduation, especially a handful of students who attended the school when they first entered kindergarten more than a dozen years ago.

Former Oasis academy’s chief executive officer and one of the founders of the school, Melissa Mackedon, delivered the 2024 commencement address. As she delivered her comments, Mackedon became emotional when reflecting on her students and what the school accomplished in such a short amount of time.

“As most of you probably know, this class is extra special and extra dear to my heart because this class represents the very first kindergarten class who started at Oasis Academy in 2011,”she said, “Eight of those first 20 kinders are part of this class.”

Mackedon left Oasis in late 2023 when Gov. Joe Lombardo selected her to be the chair of the State Public Charter School Authority Board and to serve on the Charter School Association of Nevada Board in Carson City. Over the years, Mackedon said she’s watched her Oasis students grow up and excel with their different activities.

“Let me be clear,” she said. “This class has not been hiding their potential. They have shined in the Nutcracker, won national recognition in FFA and collectively raked in $2.4 million in scholarships. They have been showing the world just how special they are since day one.”

Mackedon referenced Adam Grant’s book, “Hidden Potential,” which she said explores how individual abilities are not fixed traits but dynamic qualities that can be cultivated and expanded.

“This notion that each of us has untapped potential waiting to be discovered and unleashed is both empowering and inspiring,” she said.

Mackedon, though, told the seniors that it’s not where they start but how they grow. She said high school is only the beginning of a journey that has provided the ability for students to learn, adapt and persevere. Along with those traits are the risks associated with stepping away from their comfort zones.

The seasoned educator reminded students that past achievements don’t limit potential because their journeys are only a beginning.

“As you leave this ceremony today, take with you the belief that your potential is not limited by your past achievements or failures,” Mackedon said. “It is a vast, untapped resource waiting to be discovered and unleashed. Your journey is just beginning, and the possibilities are endless.”

She then quoted Grant: “The seeds of potential grow faster when they’re nurtured by a growth mindset, resilience, collaboration, and purpose.”

Mackedon encouraged the graduating students to nurture these qualities not only within themselves and in those around them.

“Believe in your hidden potential and go forth to create a future that is not just successful, but meaningful and fulfilling,” she said.

Before Mackedon delivered her remarks, Oasis Administrator Rochelle Tisdale commended the students who spent their K-12 career at the school by encouraging them to celebrate the culmination of hard work and dedication. She said the growth displayed by the graduates has been phenomenal, and they have conquered every obstacle.

Tisdale also included the parents and guardians in her praise.

“On this special day, we give our heartfelt gratitude to the parents, guardians and families who have been unwavering pillars of support, encouragement and love through this incredible journey,” she said.

Additionally, Tisdale singled out the staff for their tireless efforts that paved the way for the students ’successes.

“The world is yours to conquer, and we have no doubt you will leave an indelible mark on it just like you left an indelible mark on Oasis Academy,” she told the students. “This is not the end of your journey. It’s merely the beginning of a new and exciting chapter.”

Halle Feest, one of six co-valedictorians, delivered the graduation address which commended her fellow classmates for their growth and transformation. Feest said her classmates will take the next steps in their lives and be thankful for the impact Oasis has had on them.

“My time at the academy has been filled with growth, discovery and cherished memory,” Feest added.

Feest also took a short journey down memory lane and singled out certain years where classes challenged the students or how friendships developed.

Kennadee Irving, another co-valedictorian who gave the closing remarks, said graduation from Oasis signals both the end of an era and the start of a new life. During the past four years, Irving said she fostered new goals.

Reflecting on her time at Oasis Academy, Irving said the one thing that really resonated with her was the feeling of community. She experienced it firsthand when her family moved to Fallon from Washington state and discovered a new educational experience.

“This class is so talented,” she stressed. “One thing I want you to understand is how amazing our student class is.”

Irving said the examples she set have been more important than the perfect grades on her transcripts.

“I worked hard to succeed in school,” she said. “I would absolutely encourage you to try your best and to be diligent and to be a good student.”

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