Another set of Forreston students completed their high school careers and said their goodbyes Sunday afternoon.
Each year, Forreston High School holds its graduation ceremony on Mother’s Day, giving not just students, but proud mommas, something another memory for the books.
This year’s class motto was a quote from Dr. Seuss: “Sometimes, you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.”
Memories, and their values, were referenced constantly throughout the commencement, which began with a processional from the Forreston High School Band, a welcoming from Principal Travis Heinz, and an address from Superintendent Sheri Smith.
Smith said the students were the very best part of her job.
“You affirmed my positive belief about our young generation,” Smith said. “I am confident that our future is, in fact, in good hands.”
Smith also honored graduates who were heading into the military: Matthew Akins, Army National Guard; Mickey Lamping, U.S. Air Force; and Madaline Perez, Army National Guard.
In a day filled with addresses, Salutatorian Olivia Krecklow got to take the next turn.
Krecklow, who graduated with a 4.37 grade point average, celebrated the hard work of the school staff in getting the students prepared for life after high school, and for her peers who enjoyed the journey with her.
“Thank you, for the friendships and memories we have made these last for years,” Krecklow said. “”Maybe you remember a specific day, when everything went right. Memories like these are the ones that will stay around, forever.”
Agriculture teacher Robert Nelson was selected to give this year’s teacher address, and while he had plenty of jokes, he kept his focus on the relationships he and the staff had built with the students.
“All of the staff here at Forreston High School contributed to the memories that you’ll hold,” said Nelson. “Trust me, your class has provided us with many stories as teachers, as well.”
Nelson reminisced with inside jokes and favorite sayings we would share with students, as well as adventures had traveling with ag students, but concluded with wisdom to carry with them.
“All of you will keep different memories of high school - teachers, athletic events, homecoming, a big project - but today isn’t all about memories; the past is past, and today we celebrate the future.” said Nelson. “Each of the stories and memories from your time here at FHS are tiny threads that make up the fabric of your lives.”
Valedictorian Anna Snider, GPA 4.43, paid tribute to the way freedom starts out in a limited scope at birth, and evolves as the years go by into adulthood.
“Throughout these past four years of high school, we have had some incredible opportunities that should not be taken for granted,” Snider said. “Whether it was through sports, band, choir, art, or FFA, our class has had the privilege - and freedom - to take amazing trips and compete in elite competitions. We have experienced great freedoms.”
Snider gave appreciation for living in the USA, saying the level of freedom we enjoy is far more than most other nations will experience, and that those freedoms should not be wasted.
“We have the freedom to make the bad decision - which many times, is the easy decision - but now, I encourage you to make the right one,” said Snider. “Use your freedom wisely; make the right choice.”
When it came time for Heinz’s address to the students, he began with a familiar treat: a vocabulary lesson.
This year, the word was “hyperbole,” which Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “extravagant exaggeration,” and he tied it into the gravity of the class of 2018’s accomplishments.
“Most who are not Forrestonites would think that I’m using hyperbole to describe you, but guess what? I’m not,” said Heinz.
Heinz recognized the class for three state championship sports trophies, numerous FFA top finishes (including a state champion, Brooklynn Hollis), gifted musicians athletes, and for being the highest academic achieving class, receiving more than $350,000 in scholarships and grants.
The graduating class also contained 20 honor students, and 16 members of the National Honors Society, six Illinois State Scholars, and six Civil Servants.
“This class’s top ten, in any other year, would have been valedictorian and salutatorian,” Heinz said. “You were that competitive.”
Not simply crediting the students for achievements measurable in the classroom and on the field, Heinz paid tribute to the students’ coming together throughout the year as a community during difficult moments, such as the unexpected death of fellow student and athlete Drew Crase in November.
“Even more impressive than your accomplishments is how this class had come and stood together when we needed you to do that most, and when you needed each other the most, this past fall,” Heinz said. “I was so proud of each and everyone one of you, and how you showed not only the building, and us staff, but the entire community, exactly what it means to be Forreston Strong - and you didn’t just say it, you lived it, and your actions showed it.”
After Heinz finished his address, the 68 graduating students received their well-earned diplomas from Smith and School Board President John Reining.
After the high school choir sang “Dare to Dream” to the class, the students turned their tassels to the right, and exited the building, their high school careers coming to an end.