Last year my June School Bell article was entitled Wisdom from Our Children, and I shared some of the intelligent insights shared by members of the Class of 2017 who were the graduation speakers.
A year has passed and members of the Class of 2018 have joined the Class of 2017 as alumni of Tomah High School. The words of wisdom passed on by the student speakers at our 2018 graduation were just as impressive as last year’s, and I feel compelled to share some of their thoughts with you. Their messages on respect, hope and success are words I think we all need to hear more often because they can inspire each of us, not just our graduates, to be and do better!
Noah Nick, the 2018 valedictorian, created an analogy between his classmates journey through Tomah High School and the journey of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He talked about finding their intelligence, their compassion and their courage as they navigated high school. Noah shared that together they had learned that these qualities existed inside them, just as Dorothy discovered. It was wonderful to hear Noah say that he anticipates members of the Class of 2018 will have their spot on the Distinguished Alumni wall. We had hoped the creation of this recognition program would be motivating to our current students!
Marcus Wilson, the 2018 salutatorian, began his speech, entitled “The Rat Race,” by stating that his friends often reminded him that he really wasn’t the second smartest kid in the class, but rather he knew how to “play the system.” Marcus talked about how success can’t be defined by material wealth or how much money you make − that’s the rat race. He encouraged each of his classmates to “carve their own canyon” using their passion and talents and that will lead them to success. Marcus also talked about the value of construction and service industry skills and noted that just because he took nine advanced placement classes didn’t mean he was smarter than someone who took nine shop classes. He told his classmates to be the best they could be and never give up. Marcus’ words certainly reinforced the change which our Board of Education approved last year in moving to a laude system for recognition at graduation. We do want our students taking the classes which will serve them best for their futures. They shouldn’t just load up on advanced placement classes because it’s the way to have the highest grade-point average.
Lauren Tracy, our student speaker from the Robert Kupper Learning Center, could not have done a better job promoting the alternative education center through her compliments to Dr. Paul Skofronick and staff who assisted her in completing her requirements for graduation. Lauren has a strong Christian faith and experienced a high degree of anxiety being at the high school. The Robert Kupper Learning Center was a perfect fit and allowed her to be successful. Lauren worked at Kids Country to earn her 380 hours of work experience and shared ideas from the children she cared for on what makes a good friend. The bottom line for Lauren is about how we treat others and how being kind changes everything. Lauren’s final suggestion to her classmates was to remember that “your integrity impacts the world more than anything else you could do.” Sage advice from a young soul which we should all remember!
Sydney Jaromin, the 2018 senior class president, focused on relationships. She shared the importance of friendships, good teachers like Mr. Bryan and Mrs. King, significant others and our community. While Sydney shared how she doesn’t like endings and saying goodbye, she encouraged her classmates to live life to the fullest and take advantage of all the opportunities which come their way.
As you can see, the presentations from our graduation speakers are messages that stand the test of time and are as appropriate for each us to remember as they are for the members of the Class of 2018. We wish this year’s graduates the best as they explore the new and exciting adventures which await them. They are well-prepared for the challenges ahead, but we encourage them to remember the sound advice of their classmates and the final message from Noah Nick’s Wizard of Oz analogy, “there’s no place like home.”