School is wrapping up for most districts around the Mahoning Valley and this weekend welcomes a handful of commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors.

One distinguished speaker returned to his alma mater, making remarks at Western Reserve High School's graduation on Friday, June 2.

With a successful career as a nuclear submarine commander, he's proof that anything is possible once you turn the tassel.

You could say Richard Rhinehart has an impressive resume and is now using his background to inspire fellow Western Reserve High School alum.

"As this day has built up, I've spent a lot of time thinking and remembering about what it was like to graduate from western reserve and then really head out into the unknown of life," said Richard Rhinehart, a retired nuclear submarine commander with the U.S. Navy.

Recently retired from his 28 years in the United States Navy as a nuclear submarine commander, commanding the USS North Carolina for several years, he describes coming back home to speak to the class as one of his greatest honors.

"I really wanted to have a message about what I wish I knew when I was sitting in that seat myself," Rhinehart said. "What would I tell a younger me?"

The small but mighty graduating class of 52 seniors listening to the wise words of Rhinehart, of resiliency, working hard for what you're passionate about, enjoying the journey, and listening and learning from others.

"The most success I've enjoyed in life involved my family, my friends, and my mentors. And the worst mistake I've made in life are when I went out on my own because I decided I had all the answers," Rhinehart said to the crowd of family and graduates. 

"Any time we can take someone from our town, our community, or our school and create those opportunities to meet and flesh them out in person is a great thing," said Dallas Saunders, Superintendent of Western Reserve Local Schools. 

Advice in the 10-minute speech the 52 young minds will take with them in their next chapter of life.

"Being able to meet that person in the flesh is more important than just looking up at someone that maybe you'll never have the possibility to interact with so, it means a lot to have him here," Saunders added. 

Rhinehart graduated from the district back in 1988.

The 2023 graduating class is very bright, having 9 valedictorians.