2014 Graduation

A torrential downpour and lightening caused high school seniors in District 203 to strike and do a double take.

On day two, more than 1,400 graduates finally received their diplomas.

“We our young in spirit and mind, we are invincible in the sense that the weight of the world has not yet fully descended on our shoulders,” said NNHS Commencement Speaker, Christine Wang.

At Central, the grads “pawsed” to honor a four-legged classmate, “Blizzard” took to the stage for his graduation, as it was his last year as part of the Companion Animals Class because his handler, teacher Craig Theimer, is retiring.

“Blizzard has become a fixture in the Companion Animals classroom. Blizzard has soothed our soles, heard our secrets, our complaints, and our praises. He is graduating this year as his teacher, Mr. Thiemer, retires, join us in thanking Blizzard for being our companion and guide dog for the past four years,” said NCHS Student Speaker, Kasey Zhou.

More than 96% of all District 203 graduates plan to attend a college or university in the fall.

Over at District 204, 2,280 graduates safely received their diplomas inside at Northern Illinois University during three consecutive ceremonies for Waubonsie, Metea, and Neuqua valley High Schools.

About 94% of the graduates expect to go on to higher education.

The ceremony was also the last for Metea Principal, Jim Schmidd who’s retiring this year.
“In the following years, its impossible for us all to imagine a life without the amazing contributions of Mr. Jim Schmidd, like the song says, because I knew you I have been changed for good,” said MVHS Choral Instructor, Nathan Bramstedt.

District 204 commencement ceremonies culminated with Neuqua Valley, which honored retiring superintendent Dr. Kathy Birkett, who helped open the school in 1997.

“Dr. Birkett is a skilled and passionate leader and she knows as much as I do that the leader often gets the credit and sometimes the blame but the leader is nothing without her followers,” said Principal of Neuqua Valley High School, Robert McBride.

Principal McBride gave Dr. Birkett the first diploma of the night, with a special gift inside – $500 for the Kathryn J. Birkett scholarship donated by the Neuqua Valley graduating class.

The postponement of District 203 ceremonies raised a few questions about whether or not the district could create different plans for inclement weather.

In the name of safety, because lightning was present the original night of graduation, district officials told family and friends to quickly evacuate both stadiums.

Despite the frustration, the district says they know parents and students don’t want the tradition to change.

“ We hear a resounding voice, we like graduating on campus, we like graduating outside in our stadiums, it’s a special thing in our communities and we take that into consideration,” said Superintendent, Dan Bridges.

The district will review the parent and student surveys as well as their own observations in the months to come.


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