Janesville Parker High School graduates 414 at 2011 commencement
As fireworks exploded above them, the 414 seniors moved their tassels to the left and unloaded on each other with cans of silly string.
While hundreds of Parker seniors waited in line outside of Monterey Stadium, Lesley Murphy, a Parker teacher, offered each student in turn a little bit of glitter. Some students put smiley faces on their caps, or placed the glitter on their eyes or simply smeared a little on their cheeks.
Why was Murphy offering the students glitter? Her answer was simple.
“Glitter makes you happy.”
Change in Climate
In a contrast to the previous days of record heat, many students and audience members were shivering in their seats. Many friends and family brought along blankets, coats and hats. One woman said she felt as though she was attending a football game.
The change in weather was not lost on Janesville School Board President William Sodemann who welcomed everyone to a very special autumn evening and said he hoped they enjoyed the few days of summer.
The cold did not appear to bother senior Joseph Counter who stripped out of his gown on stage after receiving his diploma. Counter was wearing a red Speedo and the ceremony was momentary disrupted as his classmates laughed and gave him a standing ovation.
Former Parker graduate and Women’s National Basketball Association star Mistie Bass gave the commencement address to the students.
Bass played basketball at Parker and is the only player in state history to be named player of the year three times. She went on to play basketball at Duke University and is currently playing in the WNBA with the Chicago Sky.
Bass told students that they would all have setbacks in life, but they should not let it stop them from fulfilling their dreams.
“You are all going to fail miserable, and probably more than once,” Bass said. “It’s about what you do after the fact. You have to pursue your dreams with more passion and dedication.”
Looking to the future
Parker senior Ashley Wagman said she was nervous in general about life before the ceremony.
“I just don’t want to grow up,” Wagman said with a laugh.
Wagman will be spending part of her summer on a mission trip to northern Wisconsin to help at a camp for children with special needs. She plans on attending Blackhawk Technical College for criminal justice.
Valedictorian Lydia “Franki” Larson told her fellow students to try and stay in touch with their friends and remember how much they meant to each other the last four years.
“Our friends were the reason we came to school every day and the reason why it was so much fun,” Larson said.
Larson added it’s never to late to tell your friends how much they mean to you. She ended her speech by doing exactly to her friends.
“Thank you so much. I love you guys!” Larson said.
Math teacher, rapper
Parker math teacher Ryan Reich provided entertainment and laughs during his speech. He began his teaching career four years ago as the Class of 2011 was starting high school. He reminded students that when he began teaching he had a broken jaw and to break the ice with his students he would sing Kanye West’s song about having his jaw wired shut called “Through the Wire”.
Reich also told the students that graduation was not the end of the road.
“High School is not an ending point. That diploma will not keep you warm at night, unless you burn it and then it will only last 30 seconds,” Reich said. “Now is when you will begin to start making something of yourselves.”