Valedictorian Mackenzie Hagemeister began to think about all the memories she and the Arlington High School class of 2019 had made.
“It occurred to me our lives are like a book and our graduation signifies the end of the first chapter of our story,” she said.
While graduation feels final, Hagemeister told her classmates, their stories are just beginning.
“Not every chapter will be light reading,” she said. “There will be struggles, but never stop writing because our most important chapters are still being written.”
Class President Lylian Bechtel welcomed family, friends and community members to the 126th annual commencement ceremony at AHS. Forty-four seniors received their diplomas Sunday.
Salutatorian Emily Kraemer congratulated her fellow classmates for “being patient these last four years and making it to this day.”
Kraemer said she believes every senior in the graduating class is capable of considerable accomplishments. For the last four years, the students have been defined to a grade level by their grades. While that's important for some to move onto that next level, there are other skills and abilities that are also important, she said.
“My grades may be the reason I'm standing before all of you today, but they don't define the hard work and character that many of you have,” Kraemer said. “Do not let grades define you and keep you from doing great things in the future.”
The class of 2019 was admitted to 29 different colleges in 11 states and plan to attend 16 different colleges in six states, AHS Principal Aaron Pfingsten said. Seventy percent of the class were offered scholarships for more than $548,000. They have accepted $181,965 for the 2019-20 school year. The scholarships are renewable to more than $600,000 over a four-year period.
Supt. Lynn Johnson told the class that she founds its motto, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined,” a quote by Henry David Thoreau, interesting.
“I think it's excellent advice as you graduate high school and you start this new journey,” she said.
The class members have tasked themselves with a big charge, Johnson said. But, she said, it's absolutely something each and every one of them can do.
No matter what their dreams all, Johnson said, they all want the same thing.
“We're seeking happiness. We want to be fulfilled. We want to be content. We want to make a difference. We want meaning,” she said. “Whatever your dreams are, that's what we all want in life.”
Johnson told the graduates her parents taught her that being confident is directly tied to living a life of purpose and being confident is something that you earn.
“My mom and dad taught me if you follow these three rules, you're going to get there. Those rules are work hard at the task that's in front of you, you do the right thing and you make a difference for others,” she said. “If you do those three things and keep those three things at the forefront, you can be confident and knowing you are headed the right direction.”
During the ceremony, Pfingsten recognized Johnson, superintendent administrative assistant Cheryl Pittman and teacher Ann Jamison who will retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year.
The AHS choir performed “We Won't Stop Dreaming” and the class of 2019 video by the multimedia class was shown.