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Evansville graduates strive for grit

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Ashley McCallum
Saturday, May 27, 2017

EVANSVILLE—To have grit means to have courage, strength, character, a hard-working attitude and persistence; to be successful, you have to have grit.

That's what Jerry Roth, district administrator of the Evansville Community School District, told the 130 graduates of Evansville High School's Class of 2017 at Friday night's commencement ceremony.

Roth advised the graduates to develop relationships based on trust, honesty and respect as they prepare for college and careers. He encouraged graduates to take time to listen to the people they meet and to be open to meeting new people.

Principal Scott Everson described the Class of 2017 as one of the best group of students he has worked with as an educator. Everson recalled a conversation he had with a professor at UW-Rock County who frequently meets Evansville graduates in the classes he teaches. Everson said the professor told him he thinks every student he meets from Evansville is “awesome.”


While Tyra Babler and classmate Kayden Frame were excited to walk across the stage, they also took time to remember a classmate who never got the chance.

Jared Fredrickson was in third grade at Theodore Robinson Intermediate School when he died in 2007 after a three-year fight against leukemia. Frame remembered him fondly and wished he could have walked across the stage.

“Jared was definitely important to all of us,” Babler said.


Friends, family, teachers and classmates shared peals of laughter as the class officers thanked some of the people, places and things that helped them reach commencement.

The officers took inspiration from "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon by writing thank-you notes, accompanied by a pleasant jingle, as they listed some of their favorite memories.

Crowd favorites included a thank you to Culver's for being the “true church of Wisconsin,” eighth-grade science for teaching the importance of the films “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future” and a thank you to the Evansville football team, perhaps the funniest inside joke for the Class of 2017.


Valedictorian Sophia Pincus-Kazmar and salutatorian Jonathon Vickery shared the stage as they shared some of their favorite memories and hopes for their futures.

“We supported each other on and off the court, in the classroom, outside of these halls, and most importantly here today,” Pincus-Kazmar said.

Homecoming stood out as one of Pincus-Kazmar's favorite memories. The decorations the class put in the hall stood out as an example of something the class accomplished together that she said she would always be proud of.

Both Pincus-Kazmar and Vickery celebrated the diverse array of future plans their classmates have. Whether their peers were starting careers, going to technical school or attending a college or university, the duo applauded the ambitions of their fellow graduates.

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