Celebrating the Class of 2019: How a failure taught Hamilton’s valedictorian about patience

A Hamilton High School graduate who earned a scholarship to Duke University used his recent valedictorian speech to share how he learned most from his failures, including one in particular.

Daniel Sutton told the graduation commencement crowd he earned a “D” on a test his sophomore year at the Butler County high school because of a lack of self-awareness.

Sutton is one of only 300 high school graduates nationwide to have earned the prestigious Gates Scholarship, which will help fund his studies at Duke.

Sutton plans to double major in International Comparative Studies and Italian Studies with a minor in Linguistics.

“My most meaningful educational memory is not that of a success but quite the opposite,” Sutton said in a statement released at Hamilton’s commencement at Miami University’s Millett Hall.

“My entire educational career, I have been a perfectionist. This changed on the Monday after Thanksgiving break my sophomore year,” when Sutton returned exhausted from a school marching band trip to Hawaii to perform in Pearl Harbor memorial ceremonies.

Tired and weary from jet lag and time changes, Sutton said he ignored his mental state and rejected a teacher’s offer to let him take a test the following day.

“I was distraught and surprised I got a D. However, it was my fault because I did not recognize (the teacher’s) attempt to save my grade and maintain my health. This was indubitably the most meaningful educational memory because we learn from mistakes and we learn from failures. This was a humbling period in my high school journey because I learned the value of patience,” he said.

Sutton went on to graduate with a 4.7 grade point average after being captain of the Academic Quiz Team, president of the National Honor Society, officer of the Hamilton Youth Commission and many other volunteer activities.

He earned more than 150 community service hours.

The principal of the high school – and others who know Sutton – weren’t surprised by his many accomplishments nor his inspiring commencement speech.

“Not only is Daniel an outstanding scholar,” said Principal John Wilhelm, “but he is also an outstanding leader who accepts and grows from feedback.”

“Daniel is at ease with his peers and adults alike,” said Wilhelm.

“He is adept with effective communication skills and through his leadership, creating an environment where others feel valued and welcome.”

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