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Three days of hope and glory
Belmont, IowaGrant, Potosi say goodbye to their Class of 2015
1 IG banner
A banner (top) outside the IowaGrant High School gym commemorated IowaGrants graduation Saturday.

Every high school graduation, it seems, includes Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” more properly the trio of March No. 1 in D, ”Land of Hope and Glory.”

From there, the elements of graduations diverge, but there are similarities.

Most high schools have their valedictorians and salutatorians speak.

On Friday, Belmont High School salutatorian Brianna Riechers quoted from Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go!, but added that next year, “Who do you sit with at lunch when you’ve been sitting with the same people for 14 years? Where do you go for fun other than Belmont, Platteville, Dubuque?”

“Oftentimes, not reaching your goals teaches you the most,” said BHS valedictorian Katelyn Schobert.

Iowa–Grant valedictorian Elizabeth Wernimont admitted Saturday that “I’ve been on the ‘Can I go to college yet?’ bandwagon since I’ve been a freshman.” She then said she was ‘beginning to contemplate whether or not I’m really ready for the real world. ... And now that it seems that we’ve mastered high school, it’ is coming to a close. ... As dreadful as high school was, I laughed more than I cried.”

Iowa–Grant salutatorian Brea Stanton compared softball umpires to “all the people that have come into your life,” saying that “bad” umpires “make you appreciate all the good people that come into your life.” 

Another philosophy from Stanton’s softball team is a ban on what she called “the S word,” later whispering, “sorry,” which she said “doesn’t take ownership. ... Don’t ever apologize for being yourself. ... Play the game you love, and love the game you play. ... Find your passion and go for it.”

On Sunday, Potosi High School valedictorian Daniel Post thanked teachers for their “extreme patience in explaining things ... sometimes repeatedly. ... The bar was set high, and you challenged us to clear it.”

Post, a member of two Potosi football teams that got to the final four of Division 7, also thanked Potosi coaches for “making school more than just a classroom. ... We have learned to always give our best regardless of circumstance.”

Potosi salutatorian Kaitlyn White told her classmates to “make the most of the next couple years and find yourself. Don’t be afraid to be different. ... Decide today what is going to make you stand out from everyone else.”

Some commencements include mention of the foibles of the graduates. Schobert mentioned one unnamed classmate who jumped off a snowbank and broke his legs, and another who paid his class dues in pennies.

Iowa–Grant’s commencement was different from previous commencements in that it was held Saturday afternoon instead of Sunday afternoon. It also was held in a different looking gym, with what used to be the gym stage now the ...The stage was instead set on the floor.

Wernimont mentioned her class’ accomplishment of saving “more than 684 lives” through Iowa–Grant blood drives the past four years. IGHS principal Chris Gotto noted the more than $250,000 in scholarship money graduates earned.

A growing number of high schools recognize classes from years past.

Seven members of the Belmont High School Class of 1965 were present, and one, optometrist Kent Hillery, spoke.

“From now on you’re going to have a lot more time to supervise yourself,” said Hillery, who advised the graduates to work to impress “your next employer.” Merely by showing up every day “early, rested and ready for work” and giving 100 percent at work, “employers always notice that.”

Hillery also had advice for asking for a raise without asking for a raise — asking their employer instead for a letter of recommendation for a potential future employer.

Fourteen members of the Iowa–Grant Class of 1965 were present for Saturday’s ceremony.

Potosi Class of 2007 graduate Brett Reuter described his transition from having “more or less average grades” to having a doctorate in physical therapy and owning two Florida businesses.

“Your past does not equal your future,” he said. “We each have unique gifts, and it’s your decision whether to use them or not.”

Reuter advised graduates to read 10 pages per day, “follow your passion,” “choose your environment” in choosing “your friends wisely,” and “have fun.”

Some classes invite faculty to speak.

Belmont music teacher Brian Lehnherr is also the father of a BHS graduate, Cole, who played bass on Zach Jacobson’s performance of “Little Wonders.”

“These kids behind me are our extended family,” said Brian Lehnherr. “We’ve loved each other some days, and we’ve hated each other other days.”

Lehnherr quoted district administrator Jim Siedenberg, who is fond of saying “We’re human, we make mistakes; forgive mistakes and move on.”

“Look to your right and look to your left,” said Lehnherr. “This may be the last time you see each other.”