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Delavan grads showered with awards

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staff, Gazette
June 7, 2013

— Amid graduation day’s pomp and circumstance, those who know the 153 Delavan-Darien High School graduates who walked the stage Thursday night praised class members for their dedication to learning and service.

Principal Mark Schmitt said the class made good on its freshman year pledge to commit to learning. The class also received many accolades in the form of academic distinctions, service awards and scholarships. Many graduates received multiple honors.

This graduating class became only the second in the district’s history in which every one of the 74 seniors who applied for scholarships received funds. In total, more than $680,000 in scholarships was awarded at the ceremony, prompting tears, standing ovations and shouts of support from the audience.

‘It is a blessing’

Keanna Ecklund and Mirbella Turcios started their night on a flashy note—rolling up to the gym’s door not in mom’s minivan, but a limo.

The graduates, who are best friends, said the fanfare was to celebrate a special night for the whole family, and Turcios said her mother booked the limo to make the night “the best of the best.”

“My mom is really proud of us because she didn’t get to finish high school,” she said. “It is a blessing to be graduating with the whole family here.”

Both girls are also the first in their families to earn a high school diploma and are eldest children, which Ecklund said “sets the bar high” for their younger siblings.

Both Ecklund and Turcios were honored with academic distinctions and scholarships during the ceremony.

Embracing change

Class speaker Haley Severson urged her classmates not to fear the transition that comes after graduation night, but to greet changes as the first steps to achieving lifelong aspirations.

Severson said she confronted fears about moving far away from home by choosing to attend the University of Oklahoma for college in the fall. During the awards presentation, it was announced she is receiving a $98,000 scholarship to attend the school.

“Change goes hand in hand with progress. We must make our mark on the world by taking the necessary steps to leading a successful and productive life,” Severson said.

Pride of a community

Schmitt emphasized the graduates’ dedication to donating more than 4,000 hours of their time to the community through volunteer efforts, holding down jobs alongside class obligations and choosing to serve their country in the Armed Forces.

But the class of 2013 also knows how to have fun, presenting its principal with the tarp they used to create a massive “for sale” sign to drape over the school’s entrance as part of a recent senior prank. The band also marked the occasion by interspersing Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” theme from Star Wars with its version of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

As blue caps and silly string took flight after the graduates moved their tassels, the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” came over the loudspeaker, underwriting attendees’ pride for the graduating class.



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