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SASD High Schools Graduate 756 Students at Vollrath Bowl
Photo by Sheboygan Press Staff

More 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 District.

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 students.

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 the stage.

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

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
June 8, 2009