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Craig graduates receive one final lesson

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Jim Dayton
Thursday, June 9, 2016

JANESVILLE--Hands are not typically thought of as an aesthetically pleasing part of the human anatomy. Janesville Craig student commencement speaker Emily Ward believes differently.

“Your hands are beautiful,” she said to open her speech.

Ward said hands are representative of a person as a whole because their cuts and calluses serve as a living history of one's good and bad learning experiences.

Three hundred ninety-five hands accepted diplomas on a warm Wednesday night at Monterey Stadium during Craig's graduation ceremony.


Emily Ward was not the only member of her family to deliver a speech. Her father, Bob, was the guest speaker chosen by the graduating class. Bob Ward is a social studies and psychology teacher at Craig and has been at the school since 1997. He decided to frame his speech as his “last psychology lesson.”

Before the ceremony, multiple Craig students labeled Ward as their favorite teacher because of his relatable persona. Ward demonstrated that connection by giving anecdotes about several specific students and taking Snapchat photos of the graduates.

Ward referenced famous psychologists and experiments throughout his speech. Personalities are shaped by genetics and environment, but strong critical thinking skills developed throughout life would allow students to overcome whatever future challenges they face, he said.

“Each stage always prepares you for the next,” Ward said.


Craig students executed a senior prank, setting up a giant Slip 'N' Slide on the school's front lawn. But they had bigger plans.

A few tried to toilet paper the school, but that nearly got some students arrested.

“I was in the back of a cop car at one point,” co-valedictorian Jacob Kopnick said.

Some students presented prank ideas to school administration for approval, which ruined the purpose of the prank, Kopnick said. Eventually students settled on the Slip 'N' Slide, but decided they better do it outside. Six years ago, Craig students did a Slip 'N' Slide inside school hallways and a few got expelled for it, Riley Jensen said.

“We didn't want to take after that example,” Jensen said. “But it was legendary.”


With their win over Verona on Tuesday, the Craig baseball team is heading to state to defend their championship.

“It feels like we're supposed to be done with school, but we've got practice every day, and we've still got a job to get done,” relief pitcher Jared Filter said.

Holding on to high school for a little longer is not a bad thing, Filter said. He was excited for the chance to prove critics wrong and repeat as state champions after the team lost several key seniors last year.

Playing on the baseball team was his best experience in high school, Filter said, and he encouraged younger kids to get involved in sports. The Cougars will face Burlington next Tuesday in the quarterfinals.


Principal Alison Bjoin delivered opening remarks and told graduates that it was important to be open to wisdom, no matter the source. Bjoin explained that a woman who called herself an “anonymous grandmother” recently wrote a letter to the school and wanted it to be read during graduation.

Senior class secretary Michelle Finefield read an excerpt of the letter. Despite occasional criticism toward the generation, students are essential to the future because they will become politicians, doctors and other important positions, the letter reads.

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