Kingsland grads move on to ‘next chapter’

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich steps to the lectern as students of the Kingsland Class of 2019 stand tall and spit-polished during the start of commencement Friday evening.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“Have an open mindset…because high school is a small chapter of your lives,” said graduating Kingsland senior Megan Schultz, addressing her classmates during the Kingsland class of 2019 commencement ceremony held at Kingsland High School on Friday, May 17, two weeks earlier than usual due to construction projects that have overtaken parts of the school building.

Advice such as that rang through the gymnasium as Schultz and guest speaker and Kingsland Elementary School fifth grade teacher Brent Stinson shared their wisdom with the departing senior class.

“High school is preparing us to move on to the next chapter,” Schultz said. “Do not be afraid to make mistakes, because it has been said that the most valuable thing you can make is a mistake – learn from it and move on.”

She quoted parts of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” citing that the class should forge onward but “never forget what you learned in high school…you made it through all the drama, finished all the homework and tests…now go out there and make Kingsland proud.”

Stinson offered an echo of Schultz’s sentiments, telling the students, “Congrats, seniors, you did it. No more homework, no more tests, no more waiting for this day. Chase your passion, be the best version of you. The world seems so huge now, but it really is relationships, people around you…you should be proud of yourselves.

“This is 16 years after I sat in a chair at my graduation, and I tell you to chase your passion. My first year of teaching, this class was in fourth grade. As much as you learned in those years, I learned from you, so thank you. Education is not limited to the classroom or textbooks or tests. It’s something you learn by going out into the world.”

He listed several items of advice for the graduates, such as “Don’t let today be the best day or memory of your life” and “Stay focused on what you want and what your passion is.

“Set goals and continue to pursue them, and as you check them off, write new ones. Keep your head up. Surround yourself with positive people. Take a moment each day to turn off the noise – set your phones down, appreciate the world around you and notice things. Smile – it’s fun. Chase your passion…go out and chase your passion. Congratulations Kingsland Class of 2019.”

Senior class president Nora Jahn provided a wander down memory lane with a review of the class’s endeavors, beginning with their first days in kindergarten at the old elementary school on South Broadway in Spring Valley – telling how they got lost in the hallways and also made gingerbread houses at Christmas and tasted saltwater from the ocean, or at least former teacher Marilyn Erdman’s version of ocean saltwater.

“First grade was our final year at the old elementary school. We wore rollerskates in the gym, skates that the school provided us, or, if you were the really cool kids, you brought your own rollerblades,” she said. “And dancing in phy ed.”

Second grade found the students exploring the new elementary school, third involved their assignment to create a project about a specific animal – Jahn chose a warthog for hers. She counted through fourth grade, and the fifth grade Whitewater class trip she stated her class might have ruined for the upcoming classes because of some rowdiness and a broken window in the girls’ cabin, sixth grade’s awkwardness, all the way up to the Sadie Hawkins dance in high school when “we realized that we should’ve paid attention in first grade dancing.

“The Decades Project – we stressed and realized how many of us are procrastinators. In 11th grade, we could take college classes and prepare for prom. Finally, we’re in 12th grade, the year we were waiting for. It’s our senior year of school, our last tests…our last day. Well, seniors, we made it. Good luck to all of you in your journeys and thank you for an amazing year.”

Earlier in the ceremony, after the Kingsland High School band played Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” as the students proceeded up the aisle, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4114 presented the colors, after which the band performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” and the senior class choir offered up a song, “Somewhere Only We Know,” by T. Rice-Oxley, R. Hughes and T. Chaplin.

Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich presented the class to the audience of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, younger siblings and special friends. Kingsland’s Board of Education, presenting diplomas during the ceremony, included Chairperson Jackie Horsman, Vice Chairperson Tiffany Mundfrom, Clerk Leah Stier, Treasurer Maranda Emig and directors Natasha Howard and Kyle Rader. Horsman and Stier did the honors of handing diplomas to most of the students, but Emig stepped in when her niece, Stephanie Hershberger, took her turn to graduate.

Kingsland’s class of 2019 included Benjamin Keith Anderson, Nicolas (Cole) Joshua Bouska, Conner Lee Boysen, Lauren Grace Buchholtz, Kendall Cora Drury-DeBoer, Sydney Paige Eickhoff, Hunter Allan Fabian, Margaret Mary-Mae Grim, Morgan Marie Guy, Rachel Nicole Hansen, Stephanie Marie Hershberger, Victoria Allison Hershberger, Grace Rose Himle, Greggory Lewis Hubka, Nora Joyce Jahn, Dakota Casey Jones, Hunter Todd Jorgensen, Raalen Don Kimball, Jennifer Carmen Knutson, Reid William Kruegel, Renee Ann Lechner, Brianna Rose Lee, Katarina Faye Merkel, Christian Michael Millette, Tyler Duane Nagel, Molly MaryEllen Peshel, Wyatt William Pruter, Zachary Dean Queensland, Mikayla Cassidy Reicks, Ethan James Rollie, Jenna Lillian Schmidt, Megan Kayla Schultz, Austin William Stephas, Joshua Jon Warren, Jacob Donald Welch, Nicholaus James Wernimont, Hailey Brianne Westphal, Bradyn John Willford, Reese William Wolf and Taylor Ann Zimmerman.

Class officers included President Jahn, Vice President Anderson, Secretary Schmidt, Treasurer Hansen and advisor Aaron Thauwald. The class’s color is emerald green, its flower is the white rose, its song is “Don’t You Forget About Me” by “Simple Minds,” and its motto, “A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do” as stated by William Bagehot.

Hecimovich proudly sent off another class of graduates to a recessional, “New Horizons,” written by Lane M. Powell for the Kingsland band and conducted by Kingsland band instructor Josh Hogberg, after which the students lined up in the elementary hallway to form a receiving line, as the weather was too cold and wet for proper outdoor congratulations.

The board and administration expressed appreciation to custodial and teaching staff for making arrangements for the ceremony to take place seamlessly, and the class thanked Kristal Brogan’s horticulture class for making corsages and flower arrangements for commencement.