This is a speech given by Crawford Partnership President & CEO David Zak on May 7, 2024 at Wynford High School’s Signing Day event. Lisa Marcum, workforce development manager, joined David for this event. Below are the comments David shared with the faculty, students, families, and esteemed guests. 

Honored guests, esteemed faculty, proud parents, and most importantly, the graduating class of Wynford High School,

My name is David Zak, and I have the privilege and responsibility of working to help grow the Crawford County economy and improve its quality of life. Today, I stand before you on this pivotal moment—a true celebration of decisions and directions. As you sit here, on the cusp of your future, remember that today, Signing Day, isn’t just about where you are going, but a testament to the journey that has brought you here and the incredible steps you are about to take into the wider world.

You are stepping forward, armed with knowledge and skills, ready to explore college campuses, dive into careers, or bravely serve our nation. Each of you is making a commitment to progress on your personal paths in life, education, and career. This isn’t just a momentous day for you, but an important day for all of us in Crawford County as well.

Many of you will stay close to home, here in Crawford County, or within our vibrant region. You’re entering a community buzzing with activity—an economic engine roaring with over 1,400 companies generating an impressive $2.4 billion annually. Did you know that our county ranks in the top 3% nationally for economic development activity? And it’s hard to believe that right now, within 30 miles of Bucyrus, there are 4,000 available career opportunities, with the number continuing to grow. That’s right, you are becoming part of a story of success, a narrative of growth and prosperity that you will continue to write in the years to come.

But it’s not just about economics. It’s about the quality of life. With the economic boom we’re experiencing in Bucyrus, Galion, Crestline, and beyond, we are investing in making our community even better. Parks, downtown revitalization, infrastructure improvements, enhanced broadband, new restaurants, festivals, and events—all these elements create a vibrant community where you can thrive.

And for those of you moving beyond our county borders, you carry with you the indomitable spirit of a Wynford Royal. You take with you a piece of Crawford County—its values, its resilience, and its community spirit—ready to make a difference wherever you are in the world. You will always be part of our community, extending our reach and making us proud on a global stage.

I view all of you, as you embark on your journeys, not just as graduates but as young professionals—the most important resource our community has. I am truly blown away by your potential and want each of you to recognize the incredible possibilities within yourselves.

As Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa and a renowned leader in the struggle for human rights, once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With the knowledge and experiences you’ve gained at Wynford, you are well-equipped to wield this powerful tool—not just to carve out successful futures for yourselves, but to make a meaningful impact on the world.

You’re following in the footsteps of some truly remarkable people who once sat where you sit now and went on to make meaningful impacts. Like them, you have the potential to shape the future of Crawford County and indeed, the world.

As you sign your letters today, know that you are not just declaring a school or a career path—you are signaling your readiness to be the change-makers, the community shapers, and the leaders of tomorrow.

So, let’s celebrate not only what you have achieved but what you will achieve. Congratulations, graduates, on reaching this day, and thank you for letting all of us be a part of your bright future. Let’s make it a remarkable journey, together.