Parker grads told to enjoy moments of happiness
JANESVILLE Friends and family of the Janesville Parker class of 2012 packed the home-side stands of Monterey Stadium to watch seniors cross the stage and receive their diplomas at Friday night’s graduation ceremony.
Graduates filed in to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and took their seats in bright white folding chairs arrayed before the stage. The ceremony stretched into dusk, and fireworks lit up the darkening sky as the last graduate’s name, Andrew Corbin Zurkowski, was announced.
UW Madison band director Mike Leckrone delivered the keynote address, urging students not to strive for perpetual happiness, but instead work hard in pursuit of “moments of happiness.”
Prankster’s last chance
Seniors began gathering outside of Monterey Stadium an hour before the ceremony began at 7 p.m., shooting photos with friends and family. As a cameraman passed up and down the line, students mugged for the camera. One student leaped, bounded and flailed his arms in the background of the camera shot. When asked if he was sabotaging the video shoot, he responded, “No, of course not. Definitely not.”
Hundreds of high-fives
Biology teacher Bob Eicher ran the gauntlet of 387 graduates, exchanging high-fives with every last one of them. Eicher has been teaching at Parker High for 14 years.
“I’ve known some of these kids since they were in diapers, and I have the pictures to prove it,” Eicher said. “Others, I’ve met when they were a little older or in class at Parker. They’re a really fun class.”
Erik Vazquez Luna, 18, had a hair stylist shave a likeness of Parker’s mascot, the Viking, and the numbers 2012, into each side of his head.
“I’ve had other things shaved into my hair, and I figured since it was graduation, I better do something,” Vazquez said. “Parker, and the Janesville School District overall, has been really great ever since I moved here from Mexico when I was 7.”
Something up his sleeve
Aaron Rohm, 18, was wearing a pair of oversized novelty gold-framed sunglasses when he was lined up outside of the stadium. “I’m not sure about whether I’m going to wear them onstage yet,” Rohm said. “I might have something else going on, but I don’t want to give it away.”
During the ceremony, Rohm shed his Parker green graduation gown, revealing a Craig blue gown and received his diploma wearing the colors of his school’s cross-town rival. “I just look really, really good in blue,” Rohm said.
A fairytale evening
In her convocation address, English teacher Crystal Callison used the 1939 classic “Wizard of Oz,” as the outline to speak before the graduates. “Many of you are eager to leave the homestead behind, just as Dorothy was ready to leave Kansas,” Callison said.
“And just like Dorothy, many of you feel misunderstood or underappreciated, so off you go.
“I can guarantee you that at some point along the yellow brick road, you may just need or want to come back home. You may not believe that, but it is true.”
When he crossed the stage in Craig blue, Rohm became a sort of a “horse of a different color” similar to the one Dorothy and her companions see as they enter Oz.
The valedictorians arrived at Disney movies as the graduation ceremony’s theme. Each of the seven gave a brief reflection to their fellow graduates, referencing a different Disney film in each. In her address, Kelsey Braukhoff quoted the 1994 animated film “The Lion King,” and echoed Mufasa’s fatherly advice to his son, Simba: “Remember who you are.”
Parker High School Class of 2012
Number of graduates: 387
Valedictorians: Kaitlyn Biester; Kelsey Braukhoff; Carmen Douglas; Meridith Little; Mary Margaret O’Leary; Taylor Utzig; Ian Weiland
Salutatorians: Brandon McBride
Featured Speaker: Mike Leckrone, Director of Bands UW-Madison
Senior Class overall GPA: 3.0
Total monetary value of scholarships awarded: $210,000
Number of students with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better: 59
Number of National Honor Society Members: 42
Number of Wisconsin Covenant Scholars: 179
Parker Alma Mater:
Alma Mater, we honor thee—
Loyal to Parker High
we’ll always be
Champions strong in Vict’ry—
Raise our song on high.
Varsity, Varsity true to thee our
Viking spirit fearless and bold,
Hail to the victors,
Hail green and gold.