Message to Whitewater grads: Don’t fear failure

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staff, Gazette
Monday, June 10, 2013

— As the audience in front of him sweltered in the stuffy gym, teacher Ray Lauersdorf recounted the story of Thomas Edison’s many failures before he invented the light bulb.

Fans in the gym’s rafters were doing what they could to circulate the air, but it didn’t seem to make much difference with 142 Whitewater High School graduates on the floor and their legions of supporters filling the bleachers.

Even amid all of Edison’s failures, Lauersdorf told the graduates Sunday afternoon, he kept trying and found success.

And imagine how much worse the heat would be if Edison had given up and the stifling gym was still lit by candlelight, Lauersdorf said to a laugh.

“Failure, in my humble opinion, is part of being human,” Lauersdorf said. “It is also part of success and an even bigger part of greatness.”

Eye of the storm

Many of the graduation speakers referenced the uncertainty that lies ahead for Whitewater’s Class of 2013, which sat in the front rows of the gym wearing red gowns and white sashes.

In one of the addresses, valedictorian Andrew Tautges said the ceremony was like the eye of a storm—a calm, celebratory respite before the rigors and challenges that are to come.

Sunday was a day to mark the class’ accomplishments before journeying out to a life beyond Whitewater High School.

“Those of you who say you know this new world are wrong,” he said. “Those of you who say you are scared are right.”

Last adjustments

Before the students could march into the gym, there were some final checks to be made in the school hallways.

Teachers and administrators walked up and down the line of graduates in the minutes leading up to the ceremony, making sure everyone was in the right order and ready to go.

As Principal Doug Parker and district Superintendent Eric Runez led the seniors toward the gym doors, two students practiced their waves while their classmates chatted and snapped pictures together.

As one of the last students entered the gym, teacher Sarah Maylen made one last adjustment—reaching up and straightening the young man’s tassel.

Baby photos at graduation

After the speeches and musical performances, and after Parker read the graduates’ names and they threw their caps in the air, the crowd filtered out into the gym’s foyer.

Before and after the ceremony, televisions in the foyer played a slideshow of the Class of 2013’s baby pictures.

There was Courtney Rowe being pushed around in a mini Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and Rigoberto Navejas in a cowboy outfit and Rosemary Jaskolski playing on the monkey bars, an adult’s arms outstretched behind her so she could hang on her own.

A few attendees stopped to watch the slideshow. Others hugged and congratulated their friends, family members and classmates on graduating.

Last updated: 7:54 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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