Sycamore High School’s graduation ceremony Sunday was a celebration of its students’ voices.
From the high school choir’s performance of Adele’s “When We Were Young,” to the moment in student speaker Allison Vidales’ remarks when she passed the mic to a piano-set recording of her classmates’ talking about the proudest moments of their high school careers, the humid afternoon in the high school's fieldhouse actively emphasized student perspectives.
During her remarks, Superintendent Kathy Countryman praised the class of 2019 as defined by extremes.
“When I think of your class," Countryman said, "I will always remember the polar vortex.”
Although she said that some of the members of the Class of 2019 emailed her during this year’s extreme cold spell, Countryman explained that she meant that, like a polar vortex springing from intense weather conditions in a small area, the Class of 2019 contained several unique people in close proximity to each other.
As represented in Vidales’ tribute to her classmates, this senior class had a wide variety of experiences. One student said that playing Glinda in the school’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” was the highlight of her high school career. Another was proud to have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. One was proud that they just kept showing up.
Jack Gunty was proud of the maturity he gained during his four years at Sycamore High.
“The best part of [the hard times] was how those bad experiences shaped me as a person, and just made me learn to grow up a little bit, and just overall made me a better person.” Gunty, who plans to attend Kishwaukee College in the fall to pursue a degree in aviation, said.
Madeline McCormick and Dayton Ward were grateful for the friends they made along the way.
“It’s going to be tough to move on from such a tight-knit community where everyone just knows everyone and it’s like a giant family,” said Ward, who will study biology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, this fall.
Ward agreed that moving away from his high school community would be difficult.
“I think having such close friends that we made throughout high school [will be tough],” he said. “Having to leave them and not be able to have them so close.”
The experience of being a member of a minority group can be different, however, graduate Ebad Rana said.
“The truth is, the demographics of the school are very white. I am a minority," said Rana, who will study supply chain management –with, hopefully, some opera on the side – at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall. "So, the one thing I would say is that they could tend to the minorities a little bit better, but they always do their best and I have to commend them for that."
Rana said that he would miss the friendly environment.
“It’s a small community here in Sycamore and I really feel like I can go up to anyone and ask them for any help on anything really," Rana said. "That’s what I’m going to miss, because the Sycamore community is so welcoming, despite what I said earlier. They are very, very welcoming.”