HOWARD — An old tradition returned to East Knox High School on Friday night as the class of 2009 took the first steps of its new journey across Chet Looney Stadium during the first outdoor graduation in 21 years.
Senior Josie Rine welcomed family, friends and faculty to the commencement ceremony, where she reminded fellow classmates they will no longer be measured by the standards of others, but on their own accomplishments.
The 85 members of the class of ’09 have set a high standard, one Principal Ryan Gallwitz said will make this class “the one all others will be compared to.” Over $322,000 in scholarships have been awarded to the class whose students will work toward careers in medicine, agriculture, mechanics, education, military, communications and a host of other individual pursuits.
“They all will follow their own dream; their own plan,” he said.
Salutatorian Steven Lilley spoke not only of his found memories of friends and experiences, both on and off the football field, but of how his ambition and determination have been constant forces in his life.
“The real journey started back in elementary school when I found out what it was like to win and to get the letter ‘A’ on a grade card,” Lilley said. “I work to be the best that I can be at everything I do, and that’s what led me here today.”
In closing his address, Lilley looked at his classmates and shared the inspirational phrase “carpe diem.”
“Seize the day, class of 2009, seize the day,” he said.
Valedictorian Faith Cook selected words from Ralph Waldo Emerson to inspire a passion for life, learning and humanity within her fellow classmates by stating, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
She explained how this group of young adults has grown and matured together and this is the time in their lives where they need to remember all of the “little moments” and how they have shaped their personalities and the paths they will travel.
With that, she encouraged her peers to not be afraid of making the wrong choices in life, but be daunted by remaining stagnant.
“Theodore Roosevelt said ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing is nothing.’ So, fellow graduates, challenge yourselves and be excited for what lies ahead. The rest of our lives are waiting for us. Don’t be afraid to miss us,” Cook said.
Superintendent John Marchhausen walked the graduates through the changes that have occurred to the school over the past four years, but offered them the opportunity to look inward and examine their own metamorphosis and take with them the lessons learned as a bulldog.
“We provided the tools — remember what you learned and be better tomorrow than what you were today,” he said.