by Nathan Warner
The Zimmerman High School Band’s “Pomp and Circumstance” heralded the Zimmerman High School class of 2012 as they strolled across the school’s packed gymnasium Wednesday night.
Zimmerman teacher Jim Doran welcomed the class to their graduation, followed by a stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by the High School Choir.
“This is a class that epitomizes what a graduating class should be, with its tremendous variety of exceptional talent and incredible spirit,” Assistant Principal Mark Huss said. “You are brimming with positive role models and strong leaders who understand the boundaries of having fun and going too far.”
He stressed that they were inclusive, accepting and supportive, adding, “You will make great workers, good neighbors and wonderful friends wherever you go and whatever you do.”
Superintendent Mark Bezek offered his congratulations to the class and then turned to their parents. “Parents, are you ready to see your children graduate?” he asked. A wild roar in the affirmative met him and he smiled. “It never fails,” he said, “that the parents yell louder.”
He told the students to savor the moments of the night because it would probably be the last time they would all be in one room together. “There are three things I want you to remember,” he added, “don’t waste your time out there, have pride in everything you do, and stay close to parents, family, and your faith.”
Valedictorian Jeffry Anderson told his classmates they were on the verge of greatness. “No matter what has led to today, we each have the potential to remake ourselves in the years to come,” he said.
Student speaker Jacob Antolak strode to the podium, casually wearing blue crocs and held the audience firmly with his charm.
“I want to talk about time,” he said, addressing his classmates, “not your time, his time, her time, or space-time, but our time. It went by in the blink of an eye.” He shared memories of times that stood out in high school, whether cramming for exams, sports road trips, hanging out in the summer, or falling asleep in class. “Most important was the time we spent together,” Antolak said. “Pretty soon, we’ll be spending our time saying goodbye to each other and our parents as we leave home and go out into the world, moving up rank and moving on to bigger and even better things, so savor these moments.”
“In 2008, you were mere freshmen,” English teacher and mentor Trisha Janu said. “I arrived at my first day at ZHS a little irritated with Assistant Principal Jason Savage because he told me I’d be teaching ninth-graders when I wanted to teach 10th-graders like I always had, but Savage assured me that I would love this group of kids. At the time, I didn’t know that I had been given a gift … you.”
She said that each year, she was honestly looking forward to returning to school just so she could be around “her kids” again and if she had her way, she’d like to keep them in school with her. Janu added that the class of 2012 renewed her belief that kids today are pretty great. “I’ve repeatedly said over the years that you are the nicest group of kids I’ve ever taught and when I look at each of you, I feel great about the future. I know that each and every one of you will make a difference in this world.”
School board member Sue Farber shared that when she graduated, no one talked about failing financial systems or the pressures of an emerging global economy. “Don’t see these things as troubling or worrisome,” she told the class, “see them as exciting challenges to restore and overcome.”
High school officially ended and the future took a step as Farber concluded by sharing lyrics from Rascal Flatt’s “My Wish” with the students:
“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.”