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Edgerton High School graduates told to strive to be gritty

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Jim Dayton
Sunday, June 4, 2017

EDGERTON—School District Administrator Dennis Pauli wants members of Edgerton High School's 2017 graduating class to understand the importance of grit.

Pauli led off his remarks at Sunday's graduation ceremony by discussing the early failures of five hugely successful people: Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan.

Each persevered beyond their mistakes and continued to pursue their passions. They understood failure isn't permanent and that it took a marathon, not a sprint, to achieve their goals, Pauli said.

Put simply, they all had grit. Pauli said grit was the most significant predictor of future success.

The Class of 2017 was heavily involved in extracurricular activities, showing it had plenty of ambition, Pauli said before the ceremony.

“In my experience, the busier the kids, the more successful they are,” he said. “We seldom gave a kid an award where they just didn't have an extensive list of extracurricular activities they participate in.”

However Edgerton's 131 graduates decide to apply that ambition after high school, Pauli advised them to be gritty in whatever they choose to do.


Pauli's address wasn't the first reference to grit Sunday. Prior to the ceremony, Anthony Northington and Ethan Richardson discussed their football careers.

Northington described himself as a gritty player who got into “dogfights” while playing fullback. Richardson disagreed and said Northington got yelled at each practice for lack of effort.

“I'm a hard-working athlete,” Northington said.

“No you're not,” Richardson replied.

“Shut up,” Northington snapped. “Don't listen to him.”

Northington later hedged and admitted he could have put forth more effort during football.


Edgerton acknowledged its three foreign exchange graduates during the ceremony. They came from Iceland, Russia and Thailand.

Others emphasized the importance of traveling. Leanne Wileman decorated her mortarboard with a world map and wrote “Escape the ordinary” on it.

Two years ago, she spent time in Australia by herself and traveled the continent's eastern coast. Wileman doesn't have any vacations planned in the near future, but she will once she has the money, she said.

Another senior, Kia Vendrell, took a trip to New York City two years ago with the rest of the Edgerton band. The group marched in the Memorial Day parade, she said.

The experience was one of Vendrell's favorite memories of high school. She enjoyed how surreal it was to march through the streets with a large crowd watching the band perform, she said.


Hannah Hanson doesn't have a farming background, but she took as many agriculture classes as she could during high school.

Her cap featured a black and white Holstein pattern decorated with glitter. Under her gown she wore her trademark cowboy boots, one of 10 pairs she owns.

Hanson will pursue a career as a certified nursing assistant. She plans to keep milking cows as a side job, she said.


Kendyll Hazzard gave one of two student speeches Sunday and told her classmates to live life like an essay.

The metaphor might seem unusual, she said, but good essays have a strong thesis. Success in life requires a central focus and foundation.

A thesis statement needs cohesive body paragraphs that support its main argument. Such support was similar to family and friends that help out in difficult times, she said.

Hazzard advised the graduates to write rough drafts as necessary. They should not be afraid to make a change if their original plan starts to falter, she said.

Finally, no essay is complete unless it incorporates the writer's own style. In life, students should pursue their passions and remember to have fun, she said.

Hazzard finished her metaphor by saying success is relative. Even if an essay isn't a bestseller, it's your essay, and students should be proud of the work they do, she said.

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