Polk County High graduates class of 2008

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Polk County Class of 2008 will certainly remember&bsp; from their graduation ceremony last Friday night that their backs were dripping with sweat from the heat.

Hopefully they&squo;ll remember some of the messages given in speeches by their fellow classmates as well.

Polk County High School graduated 175 students last Friday night with the football stadium stands packed with thousands of friends and family members.

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Co-valedictorian Maggie Fitch told her classmates that, &dquo;no man is an island entire of itself,&dquo; to &dquo;be true to thine own self,&dquo; to &dquo;be the change you wish to see in the world,&dquo; and that she thinks her class, &dquo;can learn to fly.&dquo;

Fitch was one of five honor speakers Friday night as she shared the top spot with co-valedictorian Russell Kooistra. Honor speakers were Stefanie Geisler, Haley McCool and Casey Collins.

Kooistra said no matter where life takes you to &dquo;remember your roots.&dquo; He said the pursuit of happiness is one of the greatest goals in our lives and for his speech he began consulting the wise for advice.

&dquo;The Dalai Lama said, &squo;if you want to be happy, practice compassion,&squo;&dquo; Kooistra said. Pearl S. Buck said, &squo;growth itself contains the germ of happiness,&squo; but I turn to the rapper Nas for help: &squo;boys and girls listen up. You can be anything in the world, trust. An architect, a doctor, or maybe an actress. But nothing comes easy-it takes much practice,&squo; or as Lil&squo; Wayne says, &squo;the sky is the limit.&squo;&dquo;

McCool told graduates that they are now in a time like when their parents dropped them off at kindergarten and they were scared because they weren&squo;t sure what they were supposed to be doing, scared they were going to mess up and scared they were going to be alone.

&dquo;Many of us cried because we did not want to stay at school and our parents had to force us out of the car each day,&dquo; McCool said. &dquo;And now, thirteen years later we are no longer going to be forced to come to school every day. Just what we always wanted, yet many of us are now crying because we have to leave. I challenge each of my classmates of 2008 to remember all that we have been through these past thirteen years and let it remind you that although what lies ahead may seem daunting now, once you get through it you may want nothing more than to do it all again.&dquo;

Geisler remembered back to when she was seven years old and her parents bundled her up to take her snow skiing for the first time. She said she can remember being terrified of crossing her skis, losing her poles or crashing into strangers and she didn&squo;t think she was ready, but she was.

&dquo;I made many of the mistakes I feared I would, but a few hours of practice made all the difference,&dquo; Geisler said. &dquo;In some ways, tonight reminds me of that day. As I stand before you tonight, I believe this now more than ever. We might not think we&squo;re prepared for what comes next, but we are.&dquo;

Collins referred to the Bible&squo;s parable about a farmer planting&bsp; seed with some falling on a footpath, where birds came to eat it, others fell among the rocks, some seed growing, but wilting and dying, other seed growing among thorns and others falling on fertile soil. She said it is up to the class of 2008 to decide where they will fall in the farmer&squo;s field.

&dquo;But to the class of 2008, I say we will be the seed that falls on fertile soil,&dquo; said Collins. &dquo;Throughout our high school careers, we have been prepped for this day, for this planting by our teachers, families and friends. Together they have instilled in us an eternal quest for knowledge.&dquo;

Graduates Friday night kept the tradition of adorning Principal Aaron Greene with a gift. The class of 2008 placed stickers all over Greene&squo;s gown that said, &dquo;Hello, my name is,&dquo; with each graduate&squo;s name and a personal message. Other graduating classes have given Greene Mardi Gras beads, dollar bills and lottery tickets.

All graduates seemed exciting to be taking that walk across the stage, but none quite like Marcus Wilkerson who cut a back flip just before receiving his diploma.

Other highlights Friday night including the singing of the National Anthem by Chelsea Hauschild and the singing of &dquo;Chariot,&dquo; with Joshua Twitty on piano and Noah Stockdale on guitar.