than 750 newly minted graduates threw their caps in the air Sunday
after a ceremony starring a singing principal, fake hall passes and New
Year's Eve glasses. The festive ceremony at Vollrath Bowl transformed
756 high school seniors into graduates from the Sheboygan Area School
It was the 49th annual commencement of
South High School, which hosted the graduation, and the 71st annual of
North High School.
Graduates from Etude High School for the Arts and Academics, George D.
Warriner High School for Personalized Learning and Riverview Academy
also picked up their diplomas during the two-hour ceremony.
The graduating classes named 20 valedictorians, and 90 students earned
honors diplomas. The graduates' representatives - the class presidents
from North and South - took to the podium to congratulate their fellow
Erica Klein from North, who said she rewrote her speech Saturday after
the reality of graduation began to sink in, encouraged her classmates
to remember their hometown and supporters.
Brent Jacobs from South challenged his classmates to create
unforgettable memories - and was interrupted by South Principal Pat
Flaherty, who sang the first few measures of "Unforgettable," the song
popularized by Nat King Cole.
"We never know what the road holds ahead, but we can always look in the
review mirror," Jacobs said. "Make this moment impossible to forget."
The South students later returned their principal's humor by handing
him hall passes - with a return time of "never" - as they walked across
In the crowd, family and friends blasted air horns, cheered and
released balloons as their graduates' names were called.
Julie Rios, 45, even waved a homemade banner - a king-sized sheet with
paint - that congratulated her son, North graduate Lee Rios.
"I'm very proud of every single one of these kids, who know me as Mama
Rios," she said. "Now your doors are open. Spread your wings and fly."
North graduate Amanda Fritsch, 18, sported glittery, New Year's
Eve-style glasses in the shape of 2009. She wore them during the
procession down the staircase. "It's kind of surreal," she said.
Elizabeth Grandlic, 17, greeted a stream of well-wishers with hugs - and yelped: "I'm graduating!"
The South graduate plans to head to the University of Wisconsin-La
Crosse next fall to study elementary education. "I'm so excited (about)
the feeling of being over," she said. "Now is the time to celebrate."
The ceremony also capped off a journey that brought Yer Kue, 22, from
Thailand. She moved to Sheboygan about five years ago and enrolled as a
high school freshman at age 17.
Kue - who immigrated specifically to go to school - graduated from
South. "I'm very proud of myself, because in Thailand I never went to
school," she said.
Foreign exchange students from countries including Chile, the Czech
Republic, Honduras and Spain all picked up diplomas.
Sheboygan Press Article - Kate McGinty