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Rain puts damper on Parker High School graduation
JANESVILLE—At 6:34 p.m. Thursday at Monterey Stadium, Parker High School seniors let out a resounding cheer.
The gray blanket of clouds overhead had turned more ominous, and the rain students, staff and parents had been suspecting finally arrived.
Dozens huddled under a tree. Others made for the stadium's locker rooms. Still others had only their green caps and gowns to shield them from the downpour.
A minute later, thunder boomed as if it were commanding the rain to stop, and the shower left as quickly as it had arrived.
But the evening was far from over.
The high school band played “Pomp & Circumstance” as students processed into the stadium. The tempo increased as the rain picked up.
Mics at the center stage set up for a performance that would never come popped and boomed as raindrops pelted them.
The audience seated in the bleachers turned into a sea of colorful umbrellas. The rain came in waves every few minutes, always returning a little stronger than before.
Salutatorian Carly Treinen gave a short welcome. Before the ceremony could move onto the next speaker, an official announced a change in plans: The diplomas would be handed out before any speeches.
No one would have a chance to hear them.
The diplomas were handed out in record time. Audience members left throughout the ceremony to escape the ceaseless downpour. Without the luxury of being able to leave, graduates sat patiently in their chairs, growing wetter by the second.
As if on cue, the rain turned into a full-on downpour as the last name was called. Graduates erupted into a frenzy, spraying each other with silly string as fireworks boomed overhead.
And then Prince's “Purple Rain” blasted over the speaker system at full volume, appropriately cutting the ceremony short.
WANT IT THAT WAY
Seniors Bree Porter and Hanna Rainiero refused to let the weather stop them.
“We're going to blow your minds,” Porter said to an audience that had dwindled to a few dozen people.
After “Purple Rain” finished playing, they confidently belted out an off-key version of The Backstreet Boys' “I Want It That Way” with changed lyrics to reflect the theme of graduation and moving on to a new stage of life.
A couple people swayed to the nostalgic music, and Porter and Rainiero couldn't stop smiling as the rain continued to fall. After finishing, they laughed and hugged each other, and the graduation ceremony was over.
“I'm just sad that we didn't get to sing it in front of everyone,” Porter said. “We worked pretty hard on it.”
“Being in the rain will definitely be something we'll remember,” Rainiero said.