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Elkhorn High School salutatorian: Don't let fear control you

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Andrea Anderson
Thursday, June 4, 2015

ELKHORN—Don't let fear get you down and remember where you came from.

Those were some of the words of wisdom Elkhorn High School Salutatorian Shannon Shilts shared with fellow graduates and a gym full of family, friends and faculty Thursday.

“Don let it get control,” Shilts said. “Don't be afraid of failure, without failure you may never succeed. … This is not the end, this is only the beginning.”

Fellow graduate Brian Chavez piggybacked on Shilts, saying no matter where each of the graduates were going — college, military service, work — or how they were feeling — scared, excited, nervous — they would move on together.

“We will take this next step together,” Chavez said. “We are bound by the experiences we shared together.”

His final words of advice: Invest in experiences and remember the people in your lives who have helped make you the person you have become.


When the graduates were freshman, they wrote letters to themselves to open graduation day.

Carmen Wells took a sentimental approach.

She wrote about how she tripped when she was a child and the injury led to a scar on her foot that reminds her to be persistent and never let anything stop you.

“Sometimes you fall, and you have to get up and keep going after your dream,” Wells said. “Just laugh, it helps get through everything, and smile. And surround yourself with people you love and who love you.”

Wells is moving on to UW-Whitewater where she will major in music and then become a choir teacher.


Christine Schuardt decided to skip the after graduation senior party hosted at the high school and get a tattoo symbolizing the progress she has made in high school.

She and her family are Harry Potter aficionados and she planned to get “mischief managed,” a popular Harry Potter reference, tattooed on her ankle to represent her high school diploma.

Her high school career got off to a rough start but took a turn for the better, she said. She plans to attend Gateway Technical College.


Aaron Wales and Chandler Kayser were friends before birth, or, as the two put it, friends while in the womb.

Their parents were friends before the two were a spot on the horizon, and now the two are heading to UW-Platteville together. They plan to be roommates.

Wales plans to study mechanical engineering; Kayser, electrical engineering.

They both said they are going to miss certain things about high school, such as seeing their friends in the hallway, but they are looking forward to the future.

When asked for advice for the Class of 2015, Wales said “Keeping working even towards the end.”

For Kayser, “Seize the moment, you only have one year left. Don't take it for granted.”

Last updated: 9:23 pm Thursday, June 4, 2015

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