In what was likely a first for Parker High School, graduating seniors were allowed to decorate their mortarboards for Friday’s commencement.

The Class of 2018 had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it happen.

The first hoop was a presentation to Principal Christopher Laue, laying out their case.

They included comments from interviews of principals of Milton and other local high schools, graduate Susanna Bucklin said.

Laue said yes, but he kept firm control of what could be on those caps.

The next hoop: Students had to submit a sketch of their designs. Then, those that were approved had to get their decorations done and turn in their caps two weeks before the ceremony. The caps were returned to them Friday night, teacher Angela Zarnowski said.

The mortarboard sentiments ranged from poignant to flippant:

  • “Already forgot everything”
  • “To God be the glory”
  • “Goal Digger”
  • “They migrated so I could graduate”
  • “There’s a million things I haven’t done yet ... but just you wait,” a quote from the musical “Hamilton.”

And one had just logos: Those of the Chicago Bears, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Chevrolet.

Best buds

Graduates Brianna and Tyler Garey are twins, so they made complementary mortarboard decorations, expanding on a line from the cartoon feature “Finding Nemo.”

Brianna’s said, “Do you have your exit buddy?”

Tyler’s replies: “Yes, I have my exit buddy.”

Theme song

The night’s theme was “A Million Dreams,” taken from a song of that name from the 2017 movie “The Greatest Showman.” The song was part of a choir recital earlier this year. Students liked the song and its sentiment and adopted it for graduation, choir teacher Jan Knutson said.

Lyrics include these: “They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy/They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind/I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy/We can live in a world that we design.”

Dream accomplished

Proud parents included Janet Applebee and Doug Jonuska, parents of Addison Jonuska, who is headed to UW-Madison to study business.

Addison set her sights on Bucky Badger’s school, and when she got the email confirming it, she was so emotional that her mother didn’t know what she was saying, but she eventually made herself understood. Lots of hugging, crying and kissing followed.

“I’m very proud. She really did this all on her own, set her goals, went after them,” her mother said. “I never had to prod her or anything.”

Addison’s next dream: to work for Disney.

Dream dashed

Not everyone gets his dream, said Rei Bezat, one of the eight valedictorians who each gave a mini-speech about dreams.

“I dreamed of going to Yale, but it didn’t work out that way,” Bezat said.

But he’s going to UW-Madison, and he’s proud of that, he added.

“It may be difficult to leave a dream behind, but that’s an unavoidable part of life,” he said.

Viking strong

Valedictorian Emily Newmark told of deciding to go to Parker even though her classmates at St. John Vianney School were all going to crosstown rival Craig and even though she lived in the Milton School District.

“I just have to say that I could not be more proud to be graduating in green and gold today,” she said.

Forbidden object

Let’s face it, the awarding of diplomas is boring, so students like to distract themselves and break out those forbidden beach balls.

Teachers stationed around the grads tried to nab the balls to keep the focus on the grads and keep the parents’ sightlines to their children clear.

One teacher nabbed a beach ball and stabbed it with a nail file.

But a beach ball gave the crowd its biggest rise.

A beach ball bounced out of the students’ reach, and a teacher was about to grab it when a student returning to his seat reached out and batted it back to his classmates, just as it was about to touch the teacher’s outstretched fingertips.


The music played at graduations is often traditional, but incidental music played by the Parker band included the immortal 1980 hit “Funkytown.”

In another musical moment, the recording that played as graduates shot confetti into the air was the hip-hop classic well known to Badgers fans, “Jump Around.”

Fireworks police

School resource officer Todd Bailey was in charge of making sure the fireworks exploded just as the celebration began. He hit his cue perfectly, the blasts going off as the confetti, caps and Silly String started flying.


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