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Beloit Turner grads accept differences

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Jake Magee
Sunday, June 7, 2015

BELOIT—Diversity and acceptance were at the heart of Beloit Turner High School's graduation ceremony Sunday.

Students were quick to admit they didn't always see eye to eye with their classmates, but that didn't make them any less of a family.

“In times of sadness, loss, victory and triumph, we stick together,” class President Meghan Crave said during her opening speech.

The graduating Turner Trojans might have begun their high school careers as novices, but they ended as experts. Throughout their time at Beloit Turner, students rocked AP tests, began driving and learned how to get away with texting in certain teachers' classes, she said.

Crave thanked teachers, friends and family and gave a parting message to her classmates.

“Do not forget those we have lost, and do not forget each other as we go our separate ways,” she said.


“No one goes to graduation to hear the principal's speech,” Principal Ryan Bertelsen said before cutting his address short. He then allowed three seniors to take the stage for a surprise performance of “Rivers and Roads,” a folk song by The Head and the Heart.

The performance received a standing ovation from the overcrowded gym.

“A year from now we'll all be gone, all our friends will move away, and they're going to better places, but our friends will be gone away,” Bertelsen said after the song ended, quoting its verse.

The lyrics serve as a reminder that seniors are moving along their own paths now, he said. The song should remind students to slow down and breathe as they move through life.

“Don't forget to enjoy the journey,” he said.


Valedictorian Taralyn Wilmer acknowledged her classmates' differences—and her love for them regardless.

“We got to know each other, sometimes more than we wanted to, but we grew into the family,” she said.

Each senior will go on to do incredible things, including becoming firefighters, nurses, musicians, artists and journalists, she said.

“We are the future,” Wilmer said. “We can do amazing things when we put our minds to it.”

Salutatorian Nathaniel Malkow agreed, noting solemnly that the graduation ceremony might be the last time the Class of 2015 is together. He encouraged students to remember those who got them to where they are, including themselves.

“You have closed one chapter, and now it's time for another,” he said. “We will begin the next great journey: life. We must be brave.”

Besides the honor of addressing his class, Malkow had the privilege of walking an iPad bearing a live stream of his best friend, Rocío Yahre Patterson-Rivera, to the podium to receive her diploma. Patterson-Rivera has been studying abroad in Sweden since August.

Despite its differences, the Class of 2015 was united in a desire to graduate and move on, Wilmer said.

Bailey Herek and Dan Draeving felt relieved to be done.

“Going through four years of high school, it's been tough,” Herek said.

“It's just great to finally know we're done with high school and move onto our actual lives,” Draeving agreed.

“Time to start it,” Herek said.

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