Turner alums look back, face future
Beloit Turner High School
Number of graduates: 81 plus two foreign exchange students
Valedictorian: Sam Burns
Songs played or sung: "Finale B" from "Rent," "Seize the Day" from "Newsies," "What a Wonderful World," "I Gotta Feeling (That Tonight's Gonna be a Good Night)," Pomp and Circumstance," "Grand March."
Quote: From Principal Michael Kolff, who choked up as he noted that this would be his last graduation. He is retiring. "How lucky I have been to have a job that makes saying goodbye so hard."
BELOIT TOWNSHIP Valedictorian Sam Burns said his fellow Turner High School graduates should think about how they will make their marks in their lives.
"But first, look behind you and say thank you," Burns said.
Thanks was due to teachers, parents, friends and family, Burns said as members of the Class of 2012 prepared to walk out of their gym for the last time Sunday afternoon.
Graduates certainly had a long list of people to thank.
Savana Staggs said her teacher, Andy Coldren, had a lot do with her career choice. She plans to study business at UW-Whitewater.
Coldren had students compete in a classroom version of "The Apprentice" TV show. Staggs was hooked after that.
"I'm really interested in marketing. I find it fascinating," she said.
Emily Smith plans to study chemistry in college.
"My teacher, Miss (Nicole) Williams, got me interested in it," Smith said.
Brandon Lee Morris was just itching to get out of high school for the last time.
"It's such a small school. Everybody knows your business," Morris said. "I've been counting the days since kindergarten."
But even a disaffected student like Morris could point to a teacher who inspired him: Bob Sulser, who teaches political science.
A Marine Corps veteran, Sulser had interesting stories and an approach to teaching that reached Morris.
"He was a humble guy. If he thought you weren't going to get very far with the way you were acting, he let you know," Morris said. "But if you did a good job, he let you know that, too."
Sulser's example led Morris to choose the Navy. He is signed up to become an avionics boatsmate. He'll work with the catapults that launch aircraft from ships, he said with a gleam in his eye.
All of the 81 graduates had time to think about those who helped them get to this point and where they were going.
Class President Ra'Shan Blocker Nelson urged them to make the decisions that would lead the students to great things.
Student Katrina Laursen reminded the grads of the times they couldn't wait for high school to be over.
But as seniors, "now we are wishing we had taken the time to relish every moment," she said.
The ceremony played out much like others across the country, with cheers as students accepted diplomas and Silly String flying.
The Silly String ran out quickly, much like the high school experience that Laursen described. All that was left was for the new alumni to file out of the gym and into the rest of their lives.