JANESVILLE—Oh, the places they'll go, and oh, the things they know.
On Thursday night, 302 Parker High School students crossed the stage at Monterey Stadium and into their adult lives during a Dr. Seuss-themed commencement ceremony.
The stands were packed with plenty of people looking anxiously at the darkening sky. Last year, graduation ceremonies at Monterey came to an abrupt end when it started to rain.
But the rain held off and the evening ended with Janesville graduation staples: silly string and fireworks.
Keep on growing
Janesville School Board member Michelle Haworth spoke to the graduates, reminding them how far they had come since 2013 when they first arrived at high school.
They all had matured and grown over the last four years, and she wanted to tell them what the word “grow” meant to her.
“The G stands for give,” Haworth said. “You all have talents. … I'm urging you to use your talents to leave your mark on this world.”
The R stands for "respect." Haworth encouraged the graduates to learn as much as they could from other people and advised them to listen more than they spoke.
“The O stands for 'own it,'” Haworth said. “Only you control your actions and your decisions.”
The W is for work.
“I always say that if you are getting nine hours of my day, we better be having some fun,” Haworth said. “The Chinese philosopher Confucius said, 'Love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life.'”
About 64 of the students crossed the stage with one or more honor cords draped over their shoulders. Many wore more than one set.
Eight wore a red, white and blue cord indicating they planned to go into the military. They were: Anthony Bomkamp, Christian Fischer, Connor Francis, Jose Marquez, Eric Schuhmacher, Karisa Soergel, Noah Whiteaker and Shayna Williams.
Williams also wore a silver cord, indicating she was on the student leadership council.
Nayeli Govantes Alcantar wore six honor cords for her participation in the National French Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, Key Club and Link Crew.
She also wore one for winning a global education achievement award.
Not a lot goes with green robes, but students managed to personalize their graduation gowns with stylish shoes or unexpected garments underneath their gowns.
Shoes on display included flat loafers with an American flag pattern, flip-flops, steel-toed boots with the metal on one toe shining through, white athletic shoes with white socks pulled up to mid-shin and vibrant argyle socks with dress shoes.
At least four Hawaiian shirts announced their floral presence, popping out gown sleeves and at the collar line.
One Fish, Two Fish
In honor of the Dr. Seuss theme, speeches abounded with rhyme and life advice.
The school's seven valedictorians each took part in a joint speech.
Jessica Lobrano reminded students the choices they made had shaped who they are today.
“As Dr. Seuss said, 'Today you are you. That is truer than true. No one alive is youer than you.'” Lobrano said. “Now, look back at the person you were freshman year.”
She encouraged students to strive for what they wanted but also to be prepared for the unexpected.
“Within life's terms and conditions, there is a disclaimer,” Lobrano said. “This disclaimer states no one is guaranteed a perfect life.”
Her mother died unexpectedly last year, and she reminded students “Our futures are not secured.”
They must do what they can to shape that future.
Erin Seichter encouraged students to remember the good times and create more memories.
Her Seuss quote was, “I'm glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song. It seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had are gone.”
Rebecca Sodemann took the Seuss theme a little further than other students: Her speech actually rhymed.
“Congrats to Class of 2017. Today is your day and you are held in the highest esteem, and now it's time to celebrate and go pursue all your dreams in the bright future that is waiting for you to come.” Sodemann said. “But first I implore you to never forget where you came from.”