Cardinals leave the nest: Brodhead High School graduation celebrates friendships, the future

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Sunday, June 1, 2014

BRODHEAD--On Sunday, 72 young men and women graduated from Brodhead High School. Families filled the warm gym for a ceremony that  has come to mark one of the first steps into adulthood.

Near the end of the ceremony, Mike Krupke, school board vice president, gave the Class of 2014 four pieces of advice: follow your heart; believe in yourself, no matter what; surround yourself with positive people; and stay in the moment

Those themes infused the afternoon, and Krupke's speech summed up what many of the students said--both before and during the ceremony. 

Your heart, your dreams

Salutatorian Dylan Johnson, who plans to attend UW-Madison, advised his classmates to follow their dreams--in most cases.

"If  your dream is to open a small bakery, that's great. You should do it," Johnson said. "If your dream is to live in a van down by the river, well, then, maybe you should get a different dream."

The "van down by the river" reference is from a "Saturday Night Live" sketch featuring Chris Farley as a motivational speaker who eats government cheese and lives in a van down by the river. 

The character debuted in 1993, before any of Sunday's graduates were born.

On a more serious note, Johnson told students not to believe everything that is said about them.

"We have been told that our generation will do more harm than good. That's simply not true."

Believe, even in tough circumstances

Valedictorian Genevieve Balch told classmates that "success is out there, waiting for you." High school was the place to grow, to learn lessons, including how to be fair.

"That's not to say that life will always be fair," Balch said. "It won't. But the results of hard work will pay off."

Positive people

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came after Principal James Matthys gave the "Crystal Apple Award"  to Teri LaBorde.

LaBorde team-teaches junior US History and Studies in American Literature. She also teaches Sophomore World History and Life Science and transition and resource study skills to special education students. 

Students whooped when her name was announced.

LaBorde returned the homage.

"This is a good group of kids," LaBorde said in an interview before the ceremony. "They've got a lot of personality, and there's some good leaders in this group."

La Borde wasn't the only teacher to garner kudos. Graduate Elizabeth Sveum said she would miss Linda Dean, the librarian, who was "always so understanding." 

Create your own future

Matthys told students the fable of the carpenter whose boss asked him to build one last house before retiring. The carpenter, in a hurry to move on to a new stage in his life, rushed the job, cutting corners.

 When the house was done, the boss gave the carpenter the house as a reward for his years of service. The carpenter thought, "If I would have known it was going to be my own house, I would have done a better job."

"You're going to be living in the house you built," Matthys told graduates.

He advised them to "act rather than react" to circumstances and create their own futures.


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