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Speeches, jokes, and a new school mascot
Potosi co-val
Potosi co-valedictorian Clara White finished with a knock-knock joke. - photo by Photo by Charles Bull

Memorial Day weekend has grown far past its original intent to honor the nation’s war dead.

The past weekend’s schedule included three high school graduations — Belmont Friday night, and Iowa–Grant and Potosi Sunday afternoon.

Belmont salutatorian Kalyn Kamps gave a speech around two words: “what” and if,” which “impose a powerful question that can harm us for years to come — ‘what if.’ …

“Every moment of every day is something big and special. Don’t live your life thinking ‘what if.’”

Valedictorian Emma Eastlick quoted from a speech from actor Denzel Washington in which he told University of Pennsylvania graduates, “When you fall, fall forward.”

Eastlick’s personal example was racing on a scooter as a fourth-grader without shoes. When she pushed her foot on the back wheel to brake, her foot got burned, making her decide to end the ride by jumping off onto the grass. Missing the grass meant she hit the curb instead, breaking her arm.

“It is OK to have fears, as long as it doesn’t hold you back,” she said. “Never let anyone or anything stand before you, your success, your happiness.”

The 15 graduating seniors received a total of $88,000 in scholarships at the ceremony.

Iowa–Grant’s graduation began with a tradition that started in 2010, the school district’s 50th anniversary — the introduction of the class celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Another graduation tradition is a speech that recalls students’ first day in high school.

Valedictorian and class president Shaun Soman said his first day “looked and smelled a little different than most of you.  It was dark, and it smelled like conditioner. Since then, I’ve cut my hair, and I realize I could have missed out on a lot.”

Soman and salutatorian Rita Reynolds listed the class’ accomplishments, including, Soman said, four Milk Can football wins over Fennimore, three different principals including Gotto, and two teachers sumo wrestling one day. The list also included getting to state in wrestling and academic decathlon, and going to Level 4 of the WIAA football playoffs.

“Not too bad for a bunch of kids in a cornfield, eh?” said Soman.

“As we go our separate ways, we remember where we came from,” said Reynolds.

Soman described high school as “kind of like a TV show. Although graduation is like a series finale, I’ll see you at the reunion show.”

Soman also introduced the class gift, a new Iowa–Grant Panther mascot, who danced to the school fight song.

At Potosi, co-valedictorian Clara White echoed Soman’s humorous approach with this joke:

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Ya who?”

“Yahoo, we’re graduating.”

Co-valedictorian Kate Mish mentioned her classmates during her speech, which she titled “’Twas the Night Before Graduation,” ending with “Happy graduation to all, and to all a good night.”

Platteville High School’s Commencement will be in the high school gym Sunday at 1 p.m. Seniors Minjoo Son, Sarah Loring and David Ababio will speak.