The Lincoln-Way East High School Class of 2012 is ready to embark on a new phase of life after participating in a commencement exercise Tuesday, June 5 at the school.
“Tonight, we celebrate the many accomplishments of the Class of 2012 with this commencement ceremony,” stated Dr. Scott Tingley, principal. “For many of you, this is a day of great anticipation, great excitement. For some, this is a sad day as it marks a milestone for many sons and daughters.”
Valedictorian Xue (Shirley) Zhan and Salutatorian Jessica Meaux led the Class of 2012 onto the athletic field at 6:30 p.m. as Lincoln-Way East instrumentalists played “Land of Hope and Glory” by Elgar.
Seniors Ryan Smetana and Megan Win sang the National Anthem while Zhan addressed the students. Smetana, who is the Senior Class President, also spoke to students.
He thanked parents and teachers for their guidance while Zhan encouraged students to be brave, keep an open mind and take chances in life.
“Take a look at the person sitting next to you,” said Zhan. “That person could be receiving a medal on the world’s biggest stage as a future Olympian, or changing our view of the cosmos as the next Stephen Hawking, or even innovating for the future of technology as the next Bill Gates.
“No matter what we end up doing in life, we will have to take chances to achieve success,” she added. “Sure, taking those chances may backfire, but we just have to learn to pick ourselves up because life goes on. You just gotta, in the words of (science teacher) Mr. Drumheller, `keep on keepin’ on.’”
School Board President Arvid Johnson reflected on the Class of 2012’s accomplishments, including its successes in the classrooms, on the athletic fields, on standardized achievement tests, in the arts and in extracurricular activities.
“Tonight is about celebrating those successes – about celebrating YOU – as you complete your high school education and prepare for the next phase of your lives,” he said. “So, be proud… Soak it in… Congratulate yourselves… For about a minute! But, then, recognize that you didn’t do it alone.
“Acknowledge that your success depended upon the encouragement and support of many others,” he continued. “Tonight is also a night for you to thank them.”
Before the ceremony, members of the senior class presented the district and Board of Education with a class gift. The gift, which was purchased with proceeds from candy sales and other fundraisers, is a mosaic tile floor of the Griffin, installed in the floor of the field house entryway.
“We are fortunate to be graduating from such an outstanding high school as Lincoln-Way East,” said senior class President Ryan Smetana, who presented the class gift with fellow class officers Danny Sapato (vice president), Caitlyn Smith (secretary), and Shannon Merrion (treasurer), as well as senior class sponsor Patricia Tutko.
“It is for that reason that I would like to say thank you to our tremendous faculty here at East,” he continued. “It is no doubt that due to your mentoring and the dedication to your profession that we are graduating as better students and better citizens.”
Tingley encouraged students and their parents to think back to August 2008 – the year the graduating seniors entered high school.
“Where were you physically, emotionally, academically and socially as you first entered high school,” he asked. “Over the next couple of days, think back and recognize the numerous challenges that have been faced and overcome over the last four years. Recognize the great accomplishments of this class as a group and as individuals. But most importantly, recognize the personal growth that has taken place over the past four years.
“You entered East as kids and are now prepared to leave as young adults to face your next set of challenges,” continued Tingley. “I congratulate the parents and especially the seniors for your contributions to Lincoln-Way East. As you leave here today, I hope that each of you experience all the luck and happiness that this world may provide.”