Principal praises standard set by Whitewater Class of 2012
Whitewater High School Class of 2012
Number of graduates: 156
Valedictorians: Kristin Anderson, Erin Gabbey, Morgan Harty, Claire McCullough, Courtney Samuels, Hannah Runez, Mackenzie Walker.
Salutatorian: Jill Paulson
Teacher address: Barry DeKemper, WHS teacher
Songs performed: "Star Wars Main Theme," by John Williams; "Pomp and Circumstance," by Sir Edward Elgar; "And So It Goes," by Billy Joel; "American Hymn," by Michael Keller.
Number of National Honor Society Members: 26
Graduating with honors (GPA 3.2—3.49): 14.
Graduating with high honors (GPA 3.5—4.0): 21.
Class motto: "Triple-A Pride: Academics, Athletics and Arts"
WHITEWATER "We can only hope future classes live up to the standards you have set," Whitewater High Principal Doug Parker told the Class of 2012 as he brought his address during Sunday's ceremony to a close.
The class includes six graduates who will attend Division I or II universities on athletic scholarships, one student bound for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and another student with a performance at Carnegie Hall already under his belt.
Seniors embodied the class motto: "Triple-A Quality in Academics, Athletics and Arts."
"I'm just as proud of the students who, coming into this year, didn't look like they were going to graduate," Parker said.
The class had a very high graduation rate, Parker added.
'I gotta wear shades'
English and social studies teacher Barry DeKemper gave the keynote address. DeKemper's first year of teaching at WHS coincided with the Class of 2012's entrance into school as freshmen.
"Public speaking is not my idea of fun," DeKemper said, "The only reason I'm up here is you."
Stressing the importance of preparation and acceptance of the unaccepted, DeKemper recounted his own path through life, which included the death of his parents when he was in high school, a stint in the Navy and a career in health care before he arrived at WHS in 2008.
DeKemper recounted his early days teaching at WHS and said the graduating class taught him well.
"Instead of me imparting some kind of wisdom to you, it's really you who reminded me of what it is to be responsible, hard-working, caring and humorous," DeKemper said.
"Not only did you accept me, you made me a part of the Class of 2012," DeKemper said. "Standing in front of you has been a greater honor than any of you can imagine and one of the coolest things anybody has ever done for me."
With that, DeKemper made a quick mention of the Madison-connected band Timbuk3 before slipping on a pair of sunglasses and telling the graduates, "Your future's so bright, I gotta wear shades."
Valedictorian Max Molina said he wanted to make sure "you never hear a speech like this in your life."
Molina included references to the "Lord of the Rings" series written by J.R.R. Tolkien, congratulating his class on proving Gandalf's admonishment that "none shall pass" untrue. Molina also offered thanks to retiring WHS band director Don Deal.
"In a few months, things will be completely different," Molina said. "Think, create and show the world who you are."
A picture-perfect day
After the ceremony, students gathered outside the school to celebrate with family and friends.
"This is an awesome day. I'm so happy," Thomas Hernandez said out loud to nobody in particular.
"You go through so much during (high school), and you change so much," Hernandez said.
"By the time you're a senior, you're ready to leave, but it was worth it."
Minutes later, Hernandez greeted his friend and fellow graduate Benito Verduzco with a handshake and quick embrace.
"People say it's the best years, but probably not," Verduzco said. "I had a great time here, but I'm excited to move on, to go to college."