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MAHS seniors 'Shine in 2009'

Seventysix Morris Area high school graduates received diplomas during commencement exercises Friday evening.

Senior class president Christine Schneider gave the student welcome. She noted that each of the graduates has changed throughout high school, but that gave them much to remember.

Class salutatorian Bess Boever advised her peers to give back to society as part of her speech.

Class valedictorian Kelsey Amundson urged her classmates to acknowledge their accomplishments and continue to work hard.

Below are their speeches.

Christine Schneider: Good evening, and on behalf of the 2009 graduating class of Morris Area High School, I would like to welcome our school board, faculty, friends, and families to this evening's commencement exercises. At this time I would also like to extend a special welcome to our very own Jill VanKempen who not only has the honor of turning our tassels this evening, but who will also be turning a tassel of her own as she graduates from the faculty and staff of Morris Area High School into a new chapter of retirement; you will be missed greatly Jill.

As our senior class has begun to make that next step forward in our lives, we cannot help but remember and look back at our experiences here in Morris. We remember all of our shining moments, and some of our not so shining moments. We can't help but crack a smile when we think about that time the entire elementary sixth grade class got sent to "the wall", or that timewhen Matt, Taylor, Josh and Chris...well basically did anything. But we also look back on our memories and cannot help but tear up when we remember the tough times we have helped each other through; those times when we got into ridiculous arguments with our friends, or more serious times, when we had to face the ultimate tragedy of losing a loved one, and the struggle it can be to help that fellow classmate through a difficult loss.

But as we look back on all of these times we must remember what a powerful voice once said, "Life brings tears, smiles, and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but the memories last forever." From the beginning of our senior year our class has been reminiscing on our many memorable experiences from our years at Morris Area High School.

Chosen as our senior class motto, this quote reminds us all of our unique bond that we have created in our time at Morris Area High School, a bond that will help us to hold these memories close to our hearts forever.

Throughout our many years in high school I think we can all agree that we have changed a lot, from our looks, to our personalities, to the people we associate ourselves with, but as we look back on our many times shared we are able to remember the times that brought us to tears, the times that made us smile, or the times that made us laugh so hard we ended up in tears.

So as we look back on our pasts, we cannot forget about what lies ahead of us; as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

At this time I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who is making this night possible. On behalf of the graduating class of 2009, I would like to once again thank all for you for attending this evening's commencement exercises in helping to support and congratulate our graduates. Well guys, we did it! 113,880 hours later of school, we are going to be graduating. As our class motto says, "Life brings tears, smiles, and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but the memories last forever." Let us not stop our stories here, but rather continue to make the memories that will stay with us forever.

Bess Boever:

Well, classmates...we're finally here! We're finally done with high school. As the last few essay, group project, and worksheet-filled years have passed, it has sometimes seemed like this final day of our high school years was the one place we were trying to get to, and the one place we could get. Now, we have finally fulfilled all of our scholarly obligations, and we truly have earned our diplomas. Congratulations, everyone!

This fine celebration of all our accomplishments is no more than you deserve. I know that we have an amazingly talented, bright group of young people graduating today.

High school has been a time for all of us to shine whether academically, athletically, artistically, or however.

But now, down to business. I suppose I should give you some advice or words of encouragement as one stage of our journey is over and another begins. But really, who am I to give YOU advice? We've all been peers for so long, just safe within our high school bubble. The real world is coming on fast, and as to what the next few years will bring.. .even the wisest cannot tell. I do not see what lies ahead for anyone, so I can only give advice as to what I dream for our generation.

The world is changing, and we all know it. We are not our parents' fact, we are the generation that is going to have to work so hard all our lives to fix this economic mess we're in, as well as the problems brought by war, violence, climate change, and pollution. I can think of no better people to send out and help the word than the people sitting before me right now. You are strong, your roots grow deep.

We've been blessed with a wonderful education in a safe, cozy town. Now it's time for us to give back to the society that raised us. Results are needed, and we will deliver them. Whether you're off to school, the work force, the armed forces, or wherever.. .it is our responsibility to do good for the world that has done good to us thus far.

When it comes to things in life like volunteering within your community or cleaning up a highway, do not trust to hope that someone else will do it. Of course we're not alone in our responsibility to society, but maybe YOU carry the fate of us all. Maybe you can be the small stone that starts an avalanche! Maybe you can be the one to inspire others to do good.

Also, live your life in such a way that will make you happy. Listen to yourself; what does your heart tell you? Follow its orders! You can't make others happy if you are unhappy yourself, so don't be discouraged by life's little lumps.

Now then. Are you inspired yet? Always remember that you have a great personal strength which is unique to you. No one can do for you what you were put on this Earth to do.

You know...six years is far too short a time to have shared with such excellent and admirable people. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, but home is behind and the world ahead. High school was great and all, but it's time for us to hit the ground running! I bid you all a very fond farewell, and wish you the best of luck in becoming productive, peaceful citizens of the world. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Kelsey Amundson:

Well, the long awaited day is here. I have to admit, this speech thing, has been more difficult than I anticipated.

Now normally, if you told me to talk for five minutes straight I would have no problem, but when I started to write this speech, I literally sat for hours, just trying to think of what I shouldsay to you here tonight. I reminisced about all the good times we have had throughout the years and realized there are way too many memories to even begin to touch on them.

I searched for words of inspiration, but nothing I wrote seemed quite adequate.

What a journey this has been. Thirteen years of school and here we are, anxiously awaiting our ascension onto this stage to receive our diplomas.

All of the work that we have put in is finally paying off in a tangible form.

But really, if you think about it, all along the way the work we have put in has paid off in more ways than we will ever know. Our accomplishments, both individually and as a class, will forever be things that we can be proud of. Individually, we have gained knowledge, integrity, and perseverance, and in each other, we have found friendships, some of which we will have for a lifetime.

The official title of this ceremony is a graduation commencement.

Defined, commencement means "a beginning." Many of us may be looking at tonight as the end of our high school careers, but really, just as the word commencement states, tonight is the beginning of a whole new part in our lives. However, this is not to say we won't take the things we have learned in the past along with us as we leave this gym tonight. We will always remember the wonderful people that surrounded us as we made our way through school.

As you sit before me, I cannot help but be optimistic about the things we will achieve in our futures. Just know that no matter the path you decide to pursue, you can define your own success. Whether you choose to go off to school or into the work force, bear in mind the lessons and values that you have been taught.

We are all individuals with our own aspirations. We owe it to ourselves to be ambitious and fulfill our dreams. After looking at the newspaper, it appears that after our class gets through college we will have enough teachers to start our own small school. Fortunately for us, every school needs a nurse, and judging by the numbers we have going into that field, we could have one nurse in every classroom.

On a more serious note, I would like to say that personally, I will miss you all. Each of you has special qualities and talents that will take you far in life. Just make sure you always stay true to yourself. I would like to leave you with a quote from Henry David Thoreau. He once said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

This is my wish for all of you. Go after your dreams and give it everything you have.

Live your life without regrets. When you come up to receive your diplomas, realize that in that moment you have accomplished something great.

Acknowledge the work you have done to get there and then continue to pursue every dream you have ever had for yourself. It's our time to shine in 2009 and beyond!