Seniors awarded diplomas at EPS

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Valedictorian William Heilhecker (l) and Salutatorian Ethan Hinkle (r).

ELGIN — Every life lived is marked by chapters. One door closes and another one opens.

For the graduating seniors at Elgin Public School such an event occurred late Saturday afternoon.

Years of public education came down to one final moment, graduation.

The gymnasium, for close to an hour was full of words, warm embraces and a few tears, all wrapped up in the awarding of diplomas.

Giving the ‘Charge to the Class’ was 2014 graduate Ivy Prater. Having flown home from her home in Arlington, VA., Prater put the day in perspective for this year’s graduates.

“I know you’re all excited to toss those graduation caps and never look back at textbooks again, but I have some news for you: you’re not done learning,” she said. “You’ll learn plenty from your experiences, your coworkers, your mistakes …you’ll also learn from leaps of faith for better or worse.”

She urged each to live in the moment. “Take this memory (graduation) and store it to look back on. We know memories, both good and bad, can be used as treasures … As you figure out your journey, just remember that it’s the moments that truly matter.

She closed by stating three important lessons she hopes all will remember: “Be a lifelong learner, be adaptable and live in the moment.”

Giving the Valedictorian Address was William Heilhecker. He used anecdotes from his years at school to show how each was a lesson to learn from.

“With each challenge passed, you surmount another hurdle in your way,

but life is a long race with plenty of hurdles in your path, and some hurdles may seem large and foreboding.

“You can, however, find comfort that each hurdle you pass acts as a building block for your future, and if you happen to fail or trip over and fall, there will always be another hurdle there, so you can try again.”

Salutatorian Ethan Hinkle, too shared memories of days gone by, of how parents and teachers and coaches were always supportive. 

“I would also like to thank all of the staff and faculty here at Elgin Public for providing us with a great learning environment where we can all thrive,” Hinkle told the audience.

He then turned his thoughts to his family.

“Thank you for always being my number one supporters,” he said. “It was also always very comforting knowing that I could come to you (Mom and Dad) with anything I needed and get the best advice I could ask for.”

And to his classmates, he closed by saying, “I know every one of you will go out and do great things in your future.”

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Mother Joyce Wemhoff and sisters Baylee Ostransky and Ally Wemhoff along with Brooklyn Meis and Hunter Reestman watch Jack Wemhoff walk towards the stage.