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Parker graduate Jillian Tooley walks on stage to receive her diploma Friday at Monterey Stadium in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

Parker High School’s valedictorians say high school is like music.

A student’s journey from freshman year to graduation is like a song. Much like the start of a jingle, a cautious freshman beings high school quiet and organized.

Students then become more stable and their purposes begin to take shape through the fog of uncertainty—that is sophomore year.

Junior year is loud and hectic like a song’s climax. Then it’s senior year. The song’s ending.

“We no longer have 10 extra pencils. We now have one pencil that we found on the floor that morning,” Liesl Yerke said about senior year.

“My fellow graduates, we have made it to the end of our song. Now it is time to look to our future,” she said.

Yerke was one of a handful of Parker’s valedictorians who spoke during the school’s sunny commencement ceremony Friday at Monterey Stadium. Each student sought to tie the meaning and experience of high school to music in his or her speech.

They also sprinkled in some not-so-common quotes for inspiration.

Quoting Michael Scott from “The Office,” Yerke told the graduates, “You have no idea how high we can fly.”

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Parker graduate Carlos Miguel-Longoria holds up his diploma as his fellow graduates spray silly string Friday, June 7, 2019, at Monterey Stadium in Janesville.

Culture Club

Carlos Campos Sandoval said he had waited four years for Friday night.

“I’m really happy to be here,” he said before graduation.

After graduation, Campos Sandoval said, he will miss Culture Club more than anything.

Culture Club involved cooking, watching films and listening to guest speakers as a way to gain exposure to different cultures. One of the activities included walking in a parade with a Mexican flag, he said.

After graduation, Campos Sandoval said he might go straight into the workforce and tinker with electronics. Or he might go to college.

“All I know is that I’ll get there, you know? I’ll do my best to move on in life and have a good one,” he said.

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Addison Schuh, one of eight Parker valedictorians, addresses her fellow graduates Friday at Monterey Stadium in Janesville.

Gold and green

Valedictorian Julianna Getka said all the graduating seniors were locked together by their passion for music.

Valedictorian Joelie Van Beek quoted lyrics to a song by George Ezra: “Time flies by in the yellow and green.”

Parker’s colors are green and gold, she said, but the quote is fitting because of the “rapid pace at which our high school careers have come to an end.”

Valedictorian Riley Meyer quoted retired UW-Madison Band Director Mike Leckrone, saying high school is composed of moments. Some moments change the way students view the world. Others reaffirm existing beliefs.

Meyer said the important thing is to look back on the moments of happiness.

“These moments may not seem important now. But when we look back on them in 20, 30 or even 50 years from now, we will realize what impact they’ve had on us,” he said.

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Maurice Hatchett, right, hugs his daughter, Mauricia Hatchett, during the Parker commencement ceremony Friday, June 7, 2019, at Monterey Stadium in Janesville.

Valedictorian Erin Osborne urged students to be composers in the new movement of life’s symphony. There are already an infinite number of songs to listen to, she said. And that might be enough.

But she pressed graduates to do more.

“Listening to songs that other people have written might be satisfying,” she said. “But nothing is more rewarding than creating something that is entirely yours.

“The best composers find beauty in the smallest details. ... I hope you look for beauty in small, everyday things.”


A story on page 1A on Saturday incorrectly attributed quotes to Delanie Arend, a graduating senior at Parker High School. Liesl Yerke said high school is like a song and quoted Michael Scott, not Arend. 

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