The first graduation commencement held in the new Webster City High School competition gym was bittersweet for many in the graduating class of 2013.
While senior class president Brenna Paukert said this ceremony was the next step in the lives of the young people graduating, another student speaker, Emily Elm, fought off tears that were shed for the fond memories of classmates that she may not see again for many years.
South Hamilton students participate in the traditional mortarboard toss on the front lawn of the school at the end of commencement on Sunday.
The class motto, a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, reads, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Principal John Elkin began the ceremony by welcoming the attendees to the packed competition gym. After Paukert's welcome speech, the school's Purple and Gold Singers sang "Requiem," directed by Andrew Wotherspoon. The senior singers also sang "Time of Our Lives," and the concert band played "Aventura," in addition to an opening and closing songs.
Associate principal Troy Smock also gave special recognition to 20 students who graduated as Cessna Scholars with a GPA of 3.75 or above.
Diplomas were presented to students by superintendent Mike Sherwood, WC school board president Pam Hayes and WC school board vice president Dan Ryherd.
Sherwood also announced the newest inductee into the Webster City School Hall of Fame. Alan Larson, who served as Foreign Services Officer for 32 years and was a 1967 graduate of WCHS.
The Hall of Fame was established during the 2000 to 2001 school year, according to Sherwood, and recognizes outstanding accomplishments and service from Webster City graduates. Sherwood said that members of the class of 2013 could, one day, be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The alumni rolls at South Hamilton were boosted by 53 on Sunday afternoon when the class of 2013 was awarded their diplomas on a warm, summer-like day. But that didn't keep away the scores of parents, friends, family members, and fellow students of all ages and sizes who filled the high school gym to watch their favorite graduate accept a diploma.
"Be sure you like yourself," SH school board president Mike Grove advised the graduates, "because no matter where you go or what you do, you always have yourself along."
A highlight of the afternoon was the commencement address, given by class members Josh Doering and Lane Heinlein. Their light-hearted remarks touched on the accomplishments and personalities of each of their classmates in all areas, including FFA, music, academics, sports, and scouts.
In closing his remarks, Doering said that students are often apprehensive about filling the shoes of the class that has gone before them. "In filling our shoes," he recommended, "don't be afraid to reach for a size bigger."
Graduation is a defining step in life's journey, but it is only the beginning of dreams realized, Northeast Hamilton Supt. Patrick Hocking told the Class of 2013 at commencement exercises Sunday afternoon at the Blairsburg school.
"And now following this milestone, you all get to dream," said Hocking. "What I am talking about are the dreams that will lead you to your passions".
Supt. Hocking told the 15 graduating seniors that now it is their opportunity to dream and to dream big.
"The dreams are all yours and you get to decide what to dream, what dreams to follow and what dreams you will make come true," he said.
Supt. Hocking noted that the NEH Class of 2013 was not only the first to participate in the partial day sharing program with Webster City High School, but they also were the first to participate in the one-on-one iPad integration.
"And I must say they did it with enthusiasm, open minds and the true NEH spirit," he said.
"In life, you can't stop the future and can't rewind the past," said Hocking. "You must be willing to live in the present".
Supt. Hocking encouraged the students to embrace change, explore the world by experiencing life outside of Hamilton County and to consider what their legacy will be for coming generations.
"Now it is time for the graduating Class of 2013 to go out and make it happen...make your own future...make your own hope," said Hocking. "Make your families proud, but most importantly, make yourself proud".
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," noted Senior Jennifer Jeffers of the senior's class motto. "And fellow classmates, this journey begins today".
Jeffers described the 13 years spent together, developing friendships which may last a lifetime.
"There have been many moments where our class has put our differences aside and created lasting memories," she told her peers, family and friends. As for the future, Jeffers was confident her classmates will succeed.
"You all have the capability to find success," she said. "I know each and everyone of you can achieve success if you put your mind to it. The most important thing you can do it believe in yourself".
Seniors Trevor Klaver and Noah Ronnfeldt presented a lighthearted glimpse over the past 13 years.
"Throughout our career at Northeast Hamilton, we have learned some very valuable life lessons," said Klaver.
Throughout the years, the students learned valuable lessons on anger management, sticking together, getting to classes on time and learning how to cope with change.
"(As seniors) we learned that going to Webster was actually kind of awesome despite some of the drama and that iPads were a great 'learning tool'," said Ronnfeldt. "They were an absolute necessity in absolutely every class no matter what".
The duo thanked teaches, family and friends for their support throughout the years.
"It's sad to say our time as a class is closing, but our life awaits us and our class will always be there for each other," said Klaver.
"Thank you for being here for us today," said Ronnfeldt. "We appreciate all the time our parents and community have spent watching us grow up and shaping us into the awesome people we are today".
Supt. Hocking and Principal Dennis Bahr gave the Presentation of the Class of 2013 and NEH School Board President Kim Schaa awarded the graduates their diplomas.