The 227 seniors who graduated from Princeton High School June 6 might have found the words of wisdom in speeches there that evening even more valuable than the scholarships that some of the students had been awarded days earlier.
The speakers were the five co-valedictorians (Ryan Derrick, Gino Fraboni, Nicholas Langenfeld, Joseph Stenslie and Sophie Wagman), salutatorian Samantha Glauvitz, PHS English teacher Shellyn Ash and Superintendent Julia Espe. Espe’s speech included the seven lessons she gave her children when they “left the nest”: –Struggling to achieve is a gift, and the grads should take the initiative in life, create opportunity, and not assume a door is closed but to push on it.
The lesson also included the advice to never stop learning or to stop improving the mind. –Set thoughtful goals and work quietly and systematically toward them, while resisting quick fixes or easy gains. –“Assign yourself” tasks or goals and don’t wait around for directions from a boss, friend or spouse. –Don’t be afraid of taking risks, being criticized or failing. What matters most is not how many times a person falls but how many times they get back up. –Take parenting and family life seriously. –“Listen for the genuine within yourself.” –“Never think that life is not worth living or that you cannot make a difference.” Ash, who has taught English for 14 years, was animated in her delivery and even sang a few times. Among her lyrics were: “Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome when you’re living the dream. That’s what your T-shirts say … ‘Living the dream – 2014.’”
The first letter of each of the five main parts in her speech together spelled “brave,” which she advised the graduates to be as they leave PHS. –B: Be better tomorrow than you are today. –R: Remember where you come from. –A: Awesome, which she used while singing, “Everything is awesome.” –V: voice – find your voice and make sure your voice is heard, to speak up for those you love, and for those you can’t. –E: enthusiasm.
“Take enthusiasm into this big world,” Ash suggested. “Be the first one to smile. Look for the positive side. Enthusiasm is contagious – share it.”She added: “So quite simply, be brave. You’ve all got it in you. Live the dream and as you walk out into this big unknown, exciting world, I want to see you be brave.”
Langenfeld said he did not end up as a co-valedictorian because of intelligence but because he chose opportunities that allowed him to focus on school.
“Only you know what is truly best for you, and now more than ever, you have the right to choose your own destiny,” he said. Wagman also used the “be brave” theme. She said the graduates can either choose to view their future as a “scary, formidable place” or as an “adventure,” Wagman said.
Part of being courageous, Wagman said, is to “let go of things that don’t make you happy and fearlessly go after your dreams, even if no one else understands.” She advised her fellow seniors to “go far, do good … be nice to people,” and live with a “sense of adventure, a brave heart and a creative mind.”
Fraboni suggested that his fellow students: “Don’t look back; you aren’t going that way” and stated that the rest of their lives can, and will, be anything they make it. “My suggestion to you,” Fraboni continued, “is to go through every situation with an open mind and open expectations of what is to come. “
“Really high expectations can be a setup for some major disappointments. And low expectation usually have negativity that can drag you down even further. Having open expectations means that you are up to adapt to any situation and will try to make the best out of it. You can choose to be happy. And since happiness is a choice, I don’t know why you would choose anything different.”
Derrick said he didn’t feel qualified to advise his fellow graduates and that he didn’t know what it takes to be successful. “The best think I can say,” Derrick said, “is to live life how you want to live it, with no regrets, not even a single letter.”
Stenslie quoted hockey great Wayne Gretzky, saying: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Stenslie then added: “You’ll never know your abilities if you never show up.”
Stenslie next gave quotes from an unknown source: “Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.”
Stenslie’s last piece of advice was to never trust someone that bites their ice cream. “
That’s just unnatural,” Stenslie explained. Glauvitz recalled how her parents were “never wealthy or rich” and “often lived paycheck to paycheck, yet were always able to get her what she needed one way or another.
“They did everything in their power to set me up for success and, well, here I am now,” Glauvitz said Glauvitz continued that no matter how many times her parents wanted to give up on some things and no matter how many times people told them they couldn’t do it, they never once gave up.
“Life can be tough and sometimes you just want to throw in the towel, but just try one more time,” Glauvitz said. “Dare to dream just a little bigger. ‘Cause you know things might just work out better than you ever could’ve imagined.”
Senior class president Hannah Osborn led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. PHS Principal Barb Muckenhirn presented the PHS Class of 2014 and gave a comment after speeches and musical performances. Muckenhirn, along with Espe, Assistant Principals Emorie Colby and Darin Laabs, and School Board Members Craig Johnson, Chuck Nagle, Deb Ulm and Howard Vaillancourt presented the diplomas to the graduates. Following graduation, 184 of the graduates went to the middle school for the all-night graduation party put on by volunteers. This year’s theme was Race For Your Dream and had a car-racing theme. One of the activities was a scale model car racing track to run remote control cars around.