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June 2017

Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

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Iroquois County 2017 commencement speeches

A special suppliment to the Times-Republic

Central High School LAUREN LADEHOFF — Valedictorian Good evening Class of 2017. I would like to thank our parents and the teachers and staff at Central High School for preparing us for the future and paving our way towards success. They have shaped who we have become and have allowed us to grow into the aspirant soon-to-be graduates we are now. Thank you all so much! Today is the day we have all been waiting for, the day we leave high school and depart into the world. We no longer have to walk through the sweaty halls, look after the wandering freshmen, or worry about the calculus homework that we didn’t start until the morning it was due. Sure, there are some things we are relieved to never experience again, but our experience in high school has shaped our lives forever. As freshmen, we were clueless about what high school would be like. As sophomores, we thought we had our futures planned out, but have changed our minds 12 times since then. As juniors, we dreamed of our senior year and of one day ruling the school. And as seniors we can’t help but look back at the fun times we had. We made friends, watched late-night football games, attended school dances, won a few sectionals, and made many memories that we will never forget. We have also learned many life lessons throughout our high school experience. By forgetting a calculator to Ms. Davidson’s class, we learned to be prepared; by participating in lit-circles, we learned how to work quickly and efficiently; by doing Carnegie we learned patience; by participating in sports, we learned to work hard to achieve our goals; and by forgetting to pay our library fines (that would prevent us from graduating), we learned how to be more responsible. After the ceremony today, the Class of 2017 will leave the Crater as adults. We will use the lessons we learned at Central and apply them to our future aspirations. We will accomplish many things in our communities and throughout the globe. We will make new memories and have the potential to do anything we set out to do. Some of us will be CEOs of well-known corporations, some of us will develop new technologies, some of us will become nurses or doctors, and some of us will even become Disney princesses. Even though we are all different, we will all achieve the successes we dreamed about thanks to the skills we learned at Central. As Mr. Ladehoff would always say, “We are the best and brightest at Central High School.” Before we part, I challenge all of you to be the best and brightest in your future endeavors. If all 64 of us can reach our fullest potential, imagine how much better the world will be.

(Left) Lauren Ladehoff gives her Valedictorian speech at the Central High School Commencement Ceremony May 26.

(Below) Connor Call was the 2017 Salutatorian for Central High School. Photos by Jordan Crook

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Congratulations All Area Graduates

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Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

June 2017

Christ Lutheran High School TARA HEISNER — Valedictorian

had to deal with us in math classes, too. One day in my math class, we were learning about half-lives. Mrs. Wacker asked a question that was almost rhetorical, it was so easy. She asked what half of 1,000 was. Well, someone Good evening and welcome, my fellow students, families, friends, teachin our class threw out several answers to that question, none of them right. ers and guests. Well, graduation day is finally here! During the school year, Some of the suggested answers were 1,000; 2; and 50. I think we almost whenever someone mentioned graduation, there were two very different reactions from the seniors. There were some of us who cheered and couldn’t made Mrs. Wacker resign right on the spot. The whole school had theology with Pastor Deen, and we had some interesting times in there, too. One of wait for graduation day to come. Then there was some of us who let out a collective groan because we are terrified of facing “the real world”. No mat- the most memorable things that happened in theology this year, I think, was the skits we had to do. We were all divided into groups and given a Bible ter what reaction we had though, we’re all here today, and we are all going story. Pastor had been hoping that we’d come up with creative, put-together to be going out into the world, whether we like it or not. skits. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, most of the skits ended Even though we’re all obviously graduating from Christ Lutheran today, with everyone laughing at what a mess they were. not all of us have spent our entire high school careers here. In fact, I think These stories just go to show how difficult our class was to deal with Carrie is the only one of us who has actually been here for all 4 years. Howsometimes. We also talked about dropping out or quitting or failing, very ever, no matter how long we’ve been here, we’ve all learned and grown during our time here. We’ve had new experiences and made new friends. We’ve often. Mrs. Spitz had to tell us many, many times to try thinking positively and that none of us would be failures. Obviously, none of us completely made a lot of memories, too, especially this past year. We’ve gone on quite a few fun trips this year. We went to Medieval Times gave up, otherwise, we wouldn’t all be out here graduating today, without our families and friends watching us. back in December, and we had a really good time. The food was delicious, There’s a quote that I love by L.M. Montgomery. It says, “Life is worth and we really enjoyed cheering for our knight during the jousting, some living as long as there’s a laugh of us a little more than others. A few of us lost in it,” I think this quote reour voices from cheering so much. In March, ally applies to our class. High we went to the Shakespeare Theater in Chicago school, and especially this to see a play called Love’s Labor Lost. We had year, hasn’t always been easy. seats up in the balcony area, and a few of us There have been a lot of tough almost dropped our phones over the railing durtimes and problems. Even ing the performance, but luckily we were able to through all of this though, get through it without any problems. We took our we’ve all laughed together so senior trip a few weeks ago. We’d been planning often. We’ve laughed at funny to go to St. Louis, but the night before the trip, videos and funny pictures that we found out the bus wasn’t working and that we’d find and show to one we needed to figure something else out. After another. We’ve laughed tothat, we went to the Miller Park Zoo, and I think gether on the bus on the many almost everyone’s favorite animals there were trips we’ve taken on it. We’ve the river otters. We stood there watching them for laughed through our struggles almost twenty minutes. So, even though we were and problems. And of course, initially disappointed about the trip, it ended up we’ve laughed from happibeing a fun experience. Photos by Doug Brenneman ness. I know there have been We’ve made memories during our classes here Christ Lutheran Valedictorian Tara Heisner gives her speech many days when my cheeks at school too. We’ve worked together at the back at graduation ceremonies May 26 in Buckley. felt a little sore from laughtables in Mrs. Spitz’ room doing rewrites after ing and smiling so much with a test. Of course, we always got distracted, and everyone. Mrs. Spitz would try to refocus us. We’ve worked on our grammar vitamins Even though we’re a small school, we’ll still be eventually taking difin Dr. Good’s room and all improved our grammar, at least a little. In my ferent paths and going our separate ways. Some of us will keep in touch English class, we kept track of how many times Dr. Good rolled her eyes at and see each other, but we won’t all be together like we have here at Christ us, and it ended up being at least 100 times. That shows how much she had Lutheran every day. I’m so thankful that we were blessed with our time here to deal with. We’ve made Mrs. Southe put up with our lack of focus and weird topics that we talked about in foreign language class. We also always and got the chance to have fun times together and create so many special memories to hold onto. had fun in art class with Mrs. Southe. She always loved whatever we made Thank you to everyone who’s always supported us and helped us get here. in there. Even if we made something that we knew wasn’t very artistic or Thank you to all the parents, family members, friends, and teachers who impressive, or even good at all, she would always compliment it and make you feel like you just made a masterpiece. All of the girls in the school were have encouraged us and been there for us not just throughout high school, but throughout our lives. Thank you to the special people in our lives that in hand-bells with Mrs. Wacker, and our practices were always an adveninspire us to be better and to keep moving forward. ture. Whether it was someone not realizing that we were starting the song, May the Class of 2017 have a bright future and bring a positive impact to people fighting over their shared custody of a bell, someone not even playthe world and the people around us, and may God be with us on our jouring the right song, or someone playing the wrong bell for most of the song, neys! we always had something going on that made us laugh. Mrs. Wacker also


each other whether it was because Carrie was trying to convince the hand-bell choir that breathing fire was a good idea or Cole dancing like Shakira again. Thank you all for the many laughs and jokes throughout our time here at Christ Lutheran. As fun as our experiences together have been and

as great as you all are, I realize that after today, I may no longer see many of you. There is an author by the name of Jess Walter. He wrote, “Our stories go in ever direction, but Good evening. First, on behalf of the graduating sometimes, if we’re lucky, our stories join into class, I would like to thank all of you, from teachone, and for awhile, we’re less alone.” We all ers to friends and family, for being in attendance came from different directions and today and for all of the love and support Shelby Scheurich gives the Salutatorian address at Christ now, as we graduate, we are partthat you have shown us throughout the Lutheran’s graduation May 26 in Buckley. ing and heading in separate direcyears. Without all of you we would not tions once again. However, for a be on this stage today having successshort time while we were here all fully completed high school. You are the of our stories joined into one. Years ones who encouraged, and sometimes from now when we look back on forced, us to continue and we can never our high school days, I’m, sure we thank you enough for all that you have will have forgotten the math equadone for us. tions we learned or the Spanish we Now, to my fellow graduate. Who thought we could speak. But I hope would have thought we would actually that none of us will ever forget the make it this far? With numerous times we laughs that we shared and the friendall said that we were giving up, dropping ships that were formed when all of out, or dying, I wasn’t entirely sure that our stories were joined into one. this day would actually come. However, Congratulations Class of 2017. we are all here and still mostly alive and Be proud of what you have accomI am so glad because you all have made plished here because it was no small this year a truly special and hilarious feat. I wish you all the best of luck senior year. I can’t think of a single day and I know you are going to accomwhere we didn’t all bust up laughing at plish great things.

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June 2017

Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

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Cissna Park High School CONNOR KAEB — Valedictorian Ladies and gentleman, I stand before you tonight humbled, not by the weight of any accomplishment I have been able to achieve, but by the tremendous people I share this stage with. Our class has not always been the most understood, but I have been blessed with the opportunity to see an aspect of this class that may not be as outwardly apparent. The Class of 2017, more so than any class I have seen come before us, is bound together by a set of shared values that define who we are as people. These individuals, some who I’ve known for the last four years and many who I’ve known for the last 13 or more, have always impressed me with their outright devotion to each other and to the ideals that make our nation so incredible. While part of this may be attributed to the incredible support afforded to us growing up in such small, tight-knit communities, the conversations I have had with my classmates reveal it to be on an existential level. Whether it be the determination to stand up for one another or the passion for fighting for the arc of liberty and justice, this class gives me hope for the future. Our nation is facing trying times, and in an era of general apathy amongst the youth, it is people like these on this stage that have the opportunity to effect the change that is vitally needed in this country. While the paths we will take will be varied, the effect we will have on society will be great. Standing on principle and fighting for our values, we can be the beacon in these dark times and we can be the generation that leads

JOSIE MAUL — Salutatorian Change is inevitable. Changes happen every day, whether good or bad. As we graduate we are about to undergo a big change. Some of us are moving away, maybe starting a new job, or starting college with new classmates and new teachers. No matter where we’re going after high school, we won’t be attending school every day with the same classmates that we’ve had for the past 4 years or even since kindergarten. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I’m not totally sure. We have always had the reputation of being a troublemaking class, I guess that’s one thing that never changed. But whether or not change is a good thing, we have to learn to accept it. Maybe things won’t go exactly how we planned, but that’s just another part of life. Obstacles will get in the way and things will change when we least expect it. That just means we need to take advantage of what we have right now. After all, we don’t know what the future holds. Enjoy the little things while you can, because sometimes those are what you remember the most. When something comes along you weren’t expecting, embrace it and make the most of it. Changes are going to happen, but it’s up to you what you make of it. I want to close by saying thank you. Thank you to everyone who helped us along the way whether we wanted it or not. Thanks to our

to the revitalization of American ideals. Our contributions will all be measured by different standards, but everyone is extremely important. Ladies and gentlemen, on this stage you see the future of our nation. Many words have been spoken on how bleak that future may be, but I say to you that that is not the future I see. Not standing here with 27 other individuals who are among the most passionate, the most dedicated, the most compassionate, and the most visionary people I have ever met. We have completed a chapter of our life together, but the book is far from written. We will take these values that bind us together and go out into the world, and we will bring a resurgence of principle not ever before seen in this nation. We will lead to a revitalization of the workforce, our communities, and our government. Our principles guide our mission, and I know of no other class that is up to the test. It has been an incredible honor spending these years together. You have made an incredible impact on my life, and I hope I have impacted yours in some way as well. So thank you. Thank you to the United States of America for allowing us the freedom to always fight for our beliefs. Thank you to our incredible community for always supporting us. Thank you to the faculty of Cissna Park Schools for providing us with the opportunity to not only get an education, but to build the relationships that will last a lifetime. Thank you to our parents for loving us, supporting us, and fighting for us. And thank you to the Class of 2017. Together, we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish something truly amazing. Thank you and God bless you all.

Photos by Jordan Crook Valedictorian Connor Kaeb presents an energetic speech sharing how he feels the Class of 2017 will work to restore American values after graduating high school.

parents, teachers, staff, administrators, coaches, friends and family who all helped guide us. To the parents- you’ve provided us with support and helped shape us into the young adults we are today. Teachers, you gave us the knowledge we needed not only for school, but for our lives as well. I’m sure teaching us was no easy task at times but thank you for not giving up on us. We appreciate everything you’ve done for us. Thank you to the staff for cleaning up after us, keeping our school in good shape, driving us to school, and providing us with lunch every day. Thank you to the administration for providing us with the best teachers to give us a good education and a safe place to attend school. Our coaches- you taught us not only how to play a sport but how to work together, something we will use throughout our lives. Thank you to our friends and family for standing by our sides and encouraging us when we needed it the most. And last but not least, thank you Class of 2017. No we did not get along perfectly all the time. Yes, we had arguments and disagreements. But in the end, there’s no other class I would have rather been a part of. We’ve grown together and learned together and I couldn’t be more Cissna Park High School Class of 2017 Salutatorian Josie Maul proud to call you my classmates. Good luck to everyone in the future recalls her time as a member of the Class of 2017 in her speech as we go our separate ways. Things Friday. may be changing but don’t be afraid to embrace it, you never know what could happen. So, on that note, I’ll leave you with two words. Carpe Diem.




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Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

June 2017

Donovan High School CASEY ARSENEAU — Valedictorian

ers supposed to do except make play phones and act like grown-ups. We finally got big kid lockers in fourth grade and let me tell you, that was a big deal. Fourth and fifth grade also taught us that our teachers were not Well, here we are. I want to give a big thank you to everyone for coming going to treat us like little kids anymore. If we wanted a good grade or to out to see us finally graduate. I have lived in Donovan my whole life and be respected by our teacher we had to work for it. And if we didn’t, well have secretly been writing different versions of this speech since I was in let’s just say that if you were in Mr. Hammel’s class you were going to be about ohh 2nd grade. Throughout my years here I have made many memories and learned so much about myself and about all the things we obviously picking up about one hundred little pieces of paper. We were smooshed into one classroom our sixth-grade year and man was that crowded. However, must learn to get through 12 years of schooling. we chose to enjoy being the top dogs of the elementary school, especially My first day of school here on August 25, 2003, was in a what is now a conference room/ storage area/ maybe a bit of a janitor’s closet. Our teacher since we knew we were about to get thrown right back to the bottom of the totem pole once we went to the high Miss Mandi taught us that we wear shoes in school building and became seventh school, and that when gerbils run away you make graders. Seventh grade…that was signs hoping that one of the high schoolers will scary. We all knew it too, it was as find the beloved gerbil. We also learned that if we all silently agreed not to talk high schoolers love little kids especially when or look anyone in the eye once we they dress up in Halloween costumes and sing got there. We knew that if we stood Halloween songs. Preschool led us to our first up before the bell rang or talked too graduation. We all made our own paper hats and loudly Banning would start walking shook Miss Mandi’s hand to get our first didown the hallways and that’s about ploma. And afterwards we got to do my favorite all it took for us to get under control. thing… eat cake! We did not want him to yell at us. We, as a class have gone through a lot of That and we were terrified of the high changes. Of course, when we were little they schoolers. They did not want us to didn’t come as rapidly. Our first change was get in their way and we did not want moving to the elementary school and being split to get into theirs. Eighth grade went into two separate classes. We had a lot of amazby fast and ended with a somewhat ing teachers and learned a lot about each other snowy class trip to Great America and ourselves. When asked what we wanted to and our second graduation. be when we grew up I responded normal, but Freshman year though, wow. I had then again me and my friends were positive that figured that since we weren’t actually we would become a rock band. Throughout first, changing buildings that it wouldn’t second, and third grade, we learned cursive, mulbe that different. I was way wrong. tiplication, how to read chapter books, and the All the teachers except Mrs. Stevenfact that we hated standardized testing. That first son were new to us and they did not ISAT we took in third grade was brutal. Having a time limit for a test and having to shade in tiny Casey Arseneau gives her validictorian address at the care that we were freshmen. It was our first year of Lacher, Segraves, bubbles perfectly was really stressful for us. It May 26 Donovan High School commencement Whaley, Zecher, and Arvin. It was also bonded us a lot. In between tests I remember ceremony. that we made paper phones for each other. We all Please see ARSENEAU, page 8 wanted one, and I mean what else are third grad-

ELLE MARTELL — Salutatorian Good evening and thank you all for being here. I’d like to start by thanking Mr. Bauer and the entire staff and faculty for their continued support throughout our high school careers. In addition, thank you to our families for pushing us to become better people as we’ve worked through the beginning of our academic careers. This really is only the beginning, but you are the ones who make it all possible. To my parents and family, thanks for putting up with all of my craziness, especially you mom. No one else would be able to handle me as well as you do. And to my class, thank you for allowing me to enjoy 12 years of education in an environment filled with some of my favorite people. But tonight my biggest thank you goes to our secretary, Denise. It’s been clear since I began Jr. High that without her, our school would be a mess. She is one of those people who works hard and doesn’t expect anything in return, and I must give credit where credit is due. Denise is not only the mother to her family, but also to each and every child that walks through the doors in this high school. If you’re ever having a problem, you don’t need to worry. All you have to do is find Denise and she’ll help you. There aren’t too many people in this world like Denise, Donovan is lucky to have her, and I know I’ll wish she was around in the fall when I begin college. I think it’s fair to say that freshman year is rough for everyone. No one is quite sure what to do or how to act. Then, it completely blows your mind when you find out that you’re expected to figure it out all on your own. There are a few things I wish someone would have told me as I began my high school career. First: Take risks. High school opens the door to a whirlwind of extracurricular activities. This doesn’t mean you must join every single club or team; it just means try a few, even if you’re not sure about it. Just go for it. Take the opportunities because eventually you’ll be a senior and wish for just a little bit more time on the volleyball court or a little bit longer participating in activities with Ms. Segraves. Second: One grade is just that: one grade. Remind yourself that this is just one grade, in one class, for one semester, for one year, at one school, during one phase of your life. Always remember that one single grade is not going to determine your fate. Trust me, one grade is not worth the tears. Third: Some teachers are actually really cool. Although they all have one purpose, each one is a little different. Take Mrs. Stevenson- some students think her classes are really hard. But, she does that for us. If she pushes us just a little bit further than we want, we end up exceeding our own expectations. Trust me, she’s pretty cool. Ms. Page, a new teacher this year, has taken time to get to know us. In her classroom we learned that whatever attitude we give to her she is going to give right back to us. So her classes are filled with both laughter and education.

Congratulations All Area Graduates

Fourth and similarly: don’t write off teachers at first sight. There’s nothing worse than going into a new class and discovering the teacher is not what you expected. When Mrs. Snyder first came she made us all a little nervous, but now we’re in Calculus and we know that she was here for us the whole time. Our class has encountered changes in faculty quite a bit in our 4 years, but I think we have all been pleasantly surprised. Sometimes, change is good, let it happen and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Fifth: You need sleep. You are not immune to exhaustion. Don’t go around bragging about how little sleep you got. That is not a competition you want to win. Sixth: Balance your life. High school is the first time in your life when you really have to start juggling obligations on your own. (Yes, Ms. Fiore, juggling). Time management will become your best friend. It is hard to balance academics, extracurriculars, friends, family, and well-being. But, it is important. Make time for work and for fun. Otherwise, you will find yourself lacking drive and passion for your accomplishments. The last four Photos by Wendy Davis years with Elle Martell gives her salutatorian address at the this class have May 26 Donovan High School commencement given me so ceremony. many different emotions. We dodged upperclassmen in the hallways as freshman. We stressed together prior to ACT testing. We laughed at all of our falls on our senior trip at the Cascade Mountains. But most importantly, we grew together as a class. Together we felt invincible (even though we really weren’t) and now we’ve finally made it. It’s our time now. So what do you say class of 2017, is the world ready for us?

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June 2017

Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

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Iroquois West High School STEPHANIE ORR — Valedictorian Good afternoon teachers, friends, parents, and fellow graduates. It truly is such an honor to be speaking here today for the Graduation of the Class of 2017. Today is the day; we are finally graduating. For me, along with most of the graduates, it has been 1,376 days from our first day of high school on August 21, 2013 to today, May 28, 2017. If you’re anything like I am and put everything in a number format, that is also 3 years, 9 months, and 7 days. I am fairly certain I can speak for most of us graduating seniors when I say that this time went by incredibly faster than any of us ever imagined. Everything within those 3 years, 9 months, and 7 days happened so fast: from getting our permits and licenses, taking our first, second, third, or even fourth ACTs, to attending school dances, and applying to colleges. I think I can also speak for the majority of us when I say that it seems like just yesterday we were roaming the halls as freshmen, trying Photos by Wendy Davis to figure out where our next class was as Stephanie Orr delivers her the upperclassmen seemed speech as the Iroquois West’s to have everything figured out. Now, 2017 validictorian. here we are as the upperclassmen, ready to begin the next stage of our lives. Yet, we still can’t help looking back on our accomplishments and hardships within these past four years. Graduating from high school is obviously a huge milestone for our early lives which should be recognized and celebrated. All of us worked very hard to get to this point and our hard work has indeed paid off and will continue to do so. Even though it is such an exciting time to be graduating from high school, it is also important to realize that graduation is not an end goal. We will take different paths right after high school, whether attending college, starting a career, or joining the military. No matter what the final goal is, this day, May 28th, 2017, should serve as the next step. Of course, we haven’t made it to this point alone; therefore, I would like to express gratitude towards every single parent in this gym today. You have supported and encouraged us every step of the way. Even though we may

not like to admit it, you were right about pretty much everything. Thank you for staying up late to help us study, packing our lunches in the early mornings before school, attending our sporting events, and dealing with our complaints. You have supported us in so many more ways than we could ever think of. On behalf of myself and the rest of the graduating seniors, I would also like to thank everyone of our teachers we have had throughout our high school years; without you, we would not be celebrating this occasion. It has indeed been a long, but at the same time, short four years at Iroquois West High School, and even though we have worked hard to get where we are, we would not have been able to do it without the knowledge given, time offered, and talents shared from every teacher. It’s been a long four years because of all the late nights spent doing homework and projects after sporting events, typical high school drama, and hours dedicated to writing College English papers for Mrs. DeFauw. But it’s been a short four years because of the lifelong friendships created, late nights spent with friends, memories made, and valuable lessons learned that will stick with us for the years to come. And, of course, I express my gratitude towards those who have been a part of our four years at Iroquois West High School. To Nancy and Linda, thank you for making sure everything runs seamlessly not only in the office, but throughout the entire school as well. To Mr. Houberg and Mrs. Redwitz, thank you for keeping every one of us on track, making our school a better place, and for your words of encouragement and advice. Finally, I would like to thank my friends. It truly is a blessing to have been able to spend these past thirteen years of school with such amazing classmates and friends. We have all made friendships throughout high school and those people have shaped us into who we are today and are the reason why our high school years have been so great. Every memory I’m sure many of us seniors have is so great because of the people we were able to share those experiences with. I will forever be grateful for the friendships formed over these last four years. Even though some were more casual and others were closer, I will continue to be thankful for each one of them. It is incredibly exciting that after four years of doing projects, homework, laughing, taking naps in class, studying, and enjoying time with our peers that we are just about done with our high school careers. That being said, I would like to wish every single one of my fellow graduates success in whatever endeavors you participate in and success in contributing in a positive way to our society. I hope that you all work hard to achieve what you desire and inspire others to achieve their goals along the way as well. Class of 2017, I hope you all make the most of your bright futures, and, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all good luck. Thank you!

JORDYN DAVIS — Salutatorian

the conclusion that I think I would be better off winging it, again classic high schooler. ThinkHello everyone, and welcome to the graduation ing back, freshman year does not seem that long ago. Walking into those doors as little freshmen, of your class of 2017. I don’t think any of us really I would like to start off knew what to expect. Over our by saying thank you to four years in high school though, everyone who is here we learned a lot. Not only classtoday. Thank you for room lessons, but we have also helping us, supporting learned life lessons that we will us, and making us who take with us into our futures. We we are today. You all learned from our mistakes, tried have made significant new things, became really good impacts on our lives and at procrastinating, and overcame we are forever gratemany obstacles that life threw our ful for that. When I was way. So Iroquois West Class of initially told that I would 2017, look around. Next to you be writing this speech, I are the people you have grow was very unsure where up with, built friendships with, to begin. So, I did what Stephanie Orr delivers her and made everlasting memories every high schooler does, speech as the Iroquois West’s with. Though we added some Googled it. After read2017 validictorian. people along the way, including ing some tips, I came to



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myself, these are people that you will remember for years. As you look around further, you see the people who have helped raise you and shape you into who you are today. Whether these be family, teachers, or community members, these are the people who we need to show gratitude to. They have made many sacrifrices and differences in our lives to help us make it to where we are today. I would personally like to thank my family, friends, and all my supporters for everything they have done for me to be standing here in front of you all today. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys. To my fellow graduates, I encourage you to make a positive difference in others’ lives like others have done for you. I hope the best for each and every one of you sitting in front of me. Some say that because we are from a small town we cannot achieve greatness. However, I know we can all achieve great things and make a difference in this world in our own way. So, what do you say class of 2017? Ready to prove them wrong? I say lets do it!


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Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

June 2017

Milford High School LILLIAN HABING — Valedictorian

not what to think but how to think. Albert Einstein once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school”. We are pushed to make our own opinions and ideas on situations. That is I would like to start off by saying thank you for everyone that has come the true measure of our education in high school or any educational system out here tonight. The class of 2017 would like to thank family, friends, that we will enter. But most importantly I  want people to know that they faculty, and administration for helping us navigate our journey in our high should not hold off on following their dreams and pursuing their aspirations school career. We could not have made it without you.  because they are afraid of failing. In I started off this speech by not Heather’s: The Musical an outsider of knowing what exactly to write the group joins the Heathers but dares about. So, naturally I went to my to be different. She does not listen or home away from home and the give in to the conformity around her. source of most of my inspirations, This is what people must do themBarnes and Nobles. I went to the selves. We cannot let others tell us quotables wall where they have how to act or what to think. We must all of those magnet quotes. You act and think for ourselves to pursue know the really cheesy ones that our passions. say “Shoot for the moon, even if Dream and dare for yourself. Robert you miss you’ll land in the stars” Kennedy puts the statement like this, or “You’ll miss 100% of the shots “Only those who dare to fail greatly that you never take”. Although can ever achieve greatly”. This statethese are timeless quotes, I did ment is exactly what our country’s not find any true and raw inspiraprinciples are built on. Our foundtion from the wall, so I decided to ing fathers dared to establish a new look back on some of my obnation, the United States dared to put sessions and inspirations of my a man on the moon, and KFC dared senior year.  Lillian Habing reads her validictorian address at Milford High with the Double Down to replace I kept going back to a Broadway School and its 2017 graduation ceremony. the bread of a sandwich with not one show that I am obsessed with, but two chicken patties. The graduHeathers: The Musical, inspired ates of today cannot shy away from daring to use their gifts to pursue their by the 1980’s movie Heathers. I can not tell you how many times I have dreams… whether you want to be a medical examiner, a nurse practitioner, listened and sung along to the soundtrack of this musical. The whole premise of the movie is about leaders and followers. Everyone in the high school or a CEO of a thriving company. If we do not dare, we will just become another smart kid and another face in the crowd. I hope everyone of us on this is kind of forced to follow the lead of three high school girls in a group stage and in the audience dares to live their dreams and to be themselves, no named the Heathers. Our education system in which we have grown up matter how scared they are. Thank you. here at Milford High School is the complete opposite. We have been taught

DYLAN PAYNE — Salutatorian

or other competition, endless hours perfecting a play or musical, rehearsing that new song, or just dedicating oneself to the betterment of his or herself through academics or other activities, we have all spent a lot of time becomFrom the moment I was informed that I would be standing in front of all ing the adults that are here before you today.  of you tonight, giving a speech as the class of 2017 salutatorian, I wasn’t There is a quote sure what I was going to say. So, staying in the Bonnie Mohr that spirit of high school, I procrastinated as usual. I saw when I was All things considered, I don’t think this turned younger and I would out so bad. So here it goes.  like to give to my I would like to start off by thanking all of the fellow graduates administration, teachers, staff, family, friends tonight. “LIVING and all of the countless other people that have LIFE. Life is not been there for us, the Class of 2017, throughout a race - but indeed our years of schooling. It’s been a long ride for a journey. Be honus and I can only imagine the number of gray est. Work hard. Be hairs we have given all of you.  choosy. Say “thank If you didn’t know there is a new high school you”, “I love you”, being built over there… one of the biggest and “great job” to projects that this small town has seen in a numsomeone each day. ber of years. When we arrived here as freshGo to church. Take man in the fall of 2013, I don’t think that any time for prayer. The of us were expecting to be the last graduating Lord giveth and the class to walk this stage. It is still a very surreal Lord taketh. Let thought and very humbling.  your handshake Some people say that high school is supposed to be some of the best years of your life. Photos by Tanya Tovey mean more than pen and paper. Love your They go by quickly and you are going to miss Dylan Payne reads his salutatorian address at Milford High School’s life and what you’ve them. Honestly I don’t think many of us hope May 26 commencement ceremony. been given, it is not these were the best days of our lives… or that accidental - search they went by quickly.. and it may even be a for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows stretch that we are going to miss them, or that one may just take a number you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the of years to fulfill.  I will admit that it is going to be difficult over these next few years not having this very gym as a place where I know I will get to see little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. all of my friends day in and day out, but I do wish the best for all of us. The Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself - plan for longevity. Recognize the special people future is a mystery but I do hope that it remains bright for all of us.  you’ve been blessed to know. Live for today. Enjoy the moment.” I would now like to congratulate all of the people that are sitting behind So I will wrap up my speech with this, to all of you who are here tonight, me tonight. We made it. It is just now setting in on a lot of us that four years thank you, to all of those that have been closest to me through these years, I of high school, hard work and dedication that helps us prepare ourselves for love you, and to the Class of 2017, great job.  the real world is over. Whether it have been countless practices for a sport




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June 2017

Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

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Watseka Community High School WYATT CLAIRE — Valedictorian (Auctioneering…1 now 2, now 3, now 4. Sold, 4 years of high school to the class of 2017.) For some of us these four years have just drug on forever, and for others of us it was gone before we knew it.  Over that four years we have seen friendships and relationships end and new ones begin.  We have seen teachers come and teachers go, as well as, students.  Some of us are still relatively new to each other while others of us have been around each other since the beginning of kindergarten.  We have seen every one of us change in some way or form.  No matter what change we have seen here at WCHS they are lasting reminders for all of the time that we have

spent here. One of those changes for me is being able to be up here and do this; I can accredit this to WCHS classes.  The first being Current Events class and the second being FFA.  It was these classes that allowed me to be able to learn how to talk in front of a crowd, or just my class.  As Mr. Cluver would say during math class, “commercial break time.”  I remember back to my freshman year Health class with Mr.  Hartman.  We had to give presentations on one health topic that we picked.  I was so nervous that it wasn’t even funny.  I remember sitting in that chair just dripping with sweat, just wanting to run away.  He was asking for volunteers and there wasn’t any way that I was going to volunteer.  All those people who volunteer are crazy.  Then he ran out

of volunteers and started picking random people. I thought I had all my bases covered too.  I had my books stacked up as high as I could and had them strategically placed between him and me and then the more names he picked the lower and lower I got in my seat trying to hide even more.  Then I heard that one thing I didn’t want to hear, “Wyatt, you’re up.”  We all know that feeling and I was like, “look at the clock”, I don’t think we have enough time.”  “Oh yeah we do, get up, it’s only a five minute presentation.  No way the bell is going to ring. Wyatt, there is 20 minutes left, GO!!”  “ UGHH…fine.”  I felt wobbly and my sweating got even worse.  I swear I was sweating Please see CLAIRE, page 8

Wyatt Claire (left) and Nathan Schroeder (right) were this year’s valedictorian and salutitorian, respectively, at Watseka Community High School, and they gave their respective speeches at this year’s graduation ceremony May 26. Photos by Carla Waters

NATHAN SCHROEDER — Salutitorian Time flies, what better way to write my last homework assignment than writing this speech as I walked here tonight. Let me tell you the time flew by a lot quicker tonight than the last 4 years I walked to school. Now before I get too far into this, for the people who sat back in their chair, got comfortable, took a deep breath and turned to their neighbor and went (sigh), “here goes another one of those speeches.” All I have heard my whole life is time flies enjoy it, time flies enjoy it. It seems as if yesterday I was walking into the high school for the first day of school my freshman year. Now I have the honor to stand in front of my classmates to give the Salutatorian Address. Time really has flown by for me. From the classroom, to the gym, to the course, to the track it has flown by. What I will remember about those times are what happened in between. Starting as a whole 5 foot, 5 inch, 100 pound freshman, I wasn’t sure what high school had in store. Then to my sophomore year when I started getting comfortable with the new transition to high school, except for the new thing called a driver’s license. And boy was that fun, driving to Wal-Mart at 10 o’clock at night to get a gallon of milk for my parents. Driving...they say it will be fun. And then there was Junior year when I finally became less scared. I came to find out that it is okay to talk to girls, they really don’t have cooties. And then there were emails in my

inbox that read “start looking at colleges.” College?! Not the big C word. Then my Senior year is when this college thing was becoming a reality, just like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. What I will remember the most about my years here at Watseka is not how it ended, but how we went from tiny freshman, to graduating seniors. From clubs, to activities, to sports, it has left me with memories that have left a substantial impact on my life. Sports was a big part of my school experience. Whether it was pasta nights, practices, or games they all played a role in how I grew. To all the jokes at pasta nights and what could have been the RKO of the century with Coach Cluver on Hunter. The practices where we had the balance of hard work, focus and jokes. And to the games where we got to see all our hard work pay off. The hard work that at the time felt like ages was all worth it in the end. Whether that be improving on your skills, lowering your time, or raising the trophy together as a team; one way or another the end product of working hard and staying dedicated was all worth it. Watching hard work pay off was surreal, like defeating Chicago Christian for the Regional Championship, and winning the regional golf title and track sectional for the first time in school history. All the work that was done at the gym at 6 o’clock in the morning, to staying at the golf course until dark, or going to the weight room at 8 o’clock at night was all worth it in the end. The time really does fly by, and seeing it pay off is something unforgettable.

The sports I was involved in left me with memories that will last a lifetime, but the most important part of high school was what happened in the classroom to prepare me for the future. Before I get the, “well duh Nathan that is how you get your diploma” let me explain. The classroom taught me many lessons that went far beyond the classroom itself. Believe it or not at a job interview I don’t think they are going to ask “hey what is 11x13?” I know Mr. Cluver its supposed to be “Math time, fun time, all the time” But I don’t think they will ask questions like that, But they will ask questions that make you think deeply and connect to your life, and without the high school experience that we all have had, we wouldn’t have the ability to think critically. Each and every teacher has helped us in a different way. Believe it or not even the Chem Articles and the US History papers that we did on Sunday night for a Monday due date helped us. The class that seemed to drag on longer that 48 minutes you had to sit through, actually benefitted you and you didn’t even realize it. The lessons and experiences that you had within your high school classroom is something that you will never experience again. Going to school every day with most of your childhood friends and classmates; will never be experienced again by any of us no matter what path we may take in the future. So when you’re sitting in that class and look up on the clock and there is still 33 more minutes of class, embrace the environment. Even if it is the worst (exaggerPlease see SCHROEDER, page 8

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Iroquois County Commencement Speeches

June 2017

Schroeder From page 7

ate) class possible embrace it all, because before you know it, the time will be over and you’ll be wishing you could go back. Time flies, the time has flown by from all the memories in the sports to the lessons in the classroom, it has flown by. What I would do to have one more day with all my classmates and teammates. So to all the underclassmen in attendance

this evening: Embrace every minute you have ad be active within the school to give yourself every opportunity possible. And Since I know James Bruns had me on the clock this evening, since he times our pastor on Sunday, How am I doing on time? Thanks to all my classmates, teachers, coaches, and family, you really did make the time fly by.

We have all been chasing him since Kindergarten and none of us could catch him not even Hunter. It is with great honor on behalf of my classmates and myself, I would like to introduce the Valedictorian of the class of 2017, Wyatt Claire.


From page 7 so bad I could have followed the trail of sweat back to my seat when I got done. All right, commercials over anyway.  The change just from freshman year to now is amazing for all of us with so many of us changing in different ways.  Though many of us don’t want to admit it, these changes will hang with us the rest of our lives. It’s probably been a few years since a farm boy like me has been up here to give the valedictorian speech.  In those years, I am sure the US has changed a little bit.  “From 1990 to 2010 the US population increased 60 million people, or about 25%.  IN that time the amount of farms in the US decreases about 230,000 or about 10%.”  This major difference has put pressure on US farmers to continually meet the ever growing needs of the US despite the decline in farms with the US.  In order to do this farmers have to be smart and innovative.  Farmers have to be able to do a little bit of many jobs in order to be successful.  They have to be part mechanic in order to fix broken machines, part computer tech to operate the newest technology, part human resource worker to handle the many different people that they work with, part broker for making the best deal selling commodities, and part banker to understand how to budget cost and returns to run a successful farm.  On top of all of this, many farmers have a family to take care of.  All this adds up to a person that has to be hardworking, intelligent, and willing to try many different things.  This is why farming is one of America’s biggest endeavors and toughest careers to work in.  Now you may say, you’re just an advocate for farming and agriculture, of course you are going to think agriculture is great, and you may be right.  But think about it, shouldn’t we all be advocates for agriculture, I mean it is the industry that keeps us fed and clothed everyday.  To me, it makes sense for everyone to want the best for agriculture so that we can continue living our lives in the present way.  It is because of this that I want to salute the American farmer for all they do, not only feeding the US, but also the world.  I especially want to salute one farmer that has taught me the industry and provided me

the opportunity to grow and learn within. He is a person that exemplifies what it means to be a hard working farmer and has sacrificed many things for me to have a better life and opportunity to do the things I want.  I hope that one day I will make him proud by continuing on our fourth generation farm.  That person is my father, Jeff Claire. One of my favorite country singers, Luke Combs, has a song titled, “This One’s For You.”  The song begins, “There’s a couple people that I owe a thing or two or three or four.”  I owe more than a few.  Over my time here at WCHS, there’s been many people that have helped me along the way to get through high school and reach this stage today.  Teachers, classmates, friends, family; there are just too many to name off.  One person that I owe more things than I can count is my mother, Marybeth Claire.  She taught me so many things that I can’t begin to list them all.  Three things she taught me that stick out in my mind are courage, strength, and to never give up.  For those of you who don’t know, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 Pancreatic cancer about three years ago almost to this day and was given 9 months to live.  Despite such a bad diagnosis, she didn’t give up and she fought a hard and silent battle against cancer.  Up until the week around her passing, many people did not realize my mother had such a bad diagnosis, and how much that affected her life.  All my mother wanted to be was a great mother to me and my sister, and a great wife to her husband.  Her courage and strength helped her to stretch her 9 month diagnosis to 22 months of life.  Her willingness to not ever give up was something that I will forever remember and try to mimic to make her proud.  The chorus of This One’s For You goes, “This might not be the right time, these might not be the right lines to prove for saying what I’m trying to do, but this one’s for you.”   So for all those that helped me along the way to the stage and especially to you Mom, “ This One’s For You.”

Arseneau From page 4

also our first Homecoming week and it was terrifying. We were absolutely unprepared for Puttin’ on the Hits and were pretty unamused by peasant day when all the other classes got to be knights or kings and queens. But, we made it through and we really stuck together through that first year. Sophomore year felt like a total 180. We had 15 new teachers and no idea what to expect. It felt like Freshman year all over again. Even though we didn’t think we would make it through that weird year, we did. We adapted and figured it out. Thank goodness, little changed during our junior year because we had a lot of stuff to do. We had to plan Prom, raise $5000 dollars, all while basically reciting Shakespeare backwards while standing on our heads, not really, but you get the picture. Girls Basketball found ourselves at a crossroad. We had bonded so much with Coach Yeoman our sophomore year that we didn’t know if we could take our third coach in three years. Now, we are very thankful that we gave Coach Parks the chance he deserved. These past two years he has led us to three second place trophies with a combination of 15 wins. Considering we won 0 games our freshman year, I find this pretty

We didn’t expect anything to change this year, so it was heartbreaking when we found out that some of our favorite teachers would not be joining us in the fall. Those first few weeks were rough and we all felt a little jipped. We knew that there would be no more lectures from King Lacher or Beyoncé singing from Mrs. Petyko. Change was a thing we were used to at this point though. Things happen, and we knew we would adapt. I can now say that we did, and that every time we went through these changes that we didn’t think we could make it through, we have and we will continue to in our futures. We’ve made a lot of memories this year and maybe got a few too many bruises on our skiing trip. But that really just symbolizes our whole high school experience. We went into that skiing trip not too nervous, it didn’t matter that practically none of us had ever skied or snowboarded before; we thought it would be fun and gave it a try. It was funny though, as soon as the bus pulled up to the mountain, our eyes all got wide and we were thinking, what did we get ourselves into, we are not going to make it through this day. And yea, it took us about ten minutes until we could all stop

a picture. Our first time down the mountain was hilarious. There was a lot of falling and flailing and crashing, lots and lots of crashing. Often involving at least two people piled up. It was fun, and hard, but we staying together through the trip and were absolutely exhausted from all the fun we had by the end. Here we are, the class of 2017. Finally, this will be our third graduation and our last here at Donovan. We have made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I’m terrible at goodbyes and ending paragraphs, sorry Mrs. Stevenson, I really do try, but it’s time for me and for us to say goodbye and thank you to everyone that has helped us through this chapter of our life. A big thank you to my parents and brother for putting up with me. I love you and am so thankful for all that you have done for me. Especially you Kendell, I would not be the person I am now without you as my little brother. I can’t wait to watch you play basketball these next two years, and maybe even dunk once please! Even though I will be a Spartan in the fall, I will always be thankful and blessed to have been a wildcat.

2017 Iroquois County commencement speeches  
2017 Iroquois County commencement speeches