DIXON – Overcast skies and the threat of rain brought the Dixon High School graduation ceremony indoors, but those in attendance Sunday exited the steamy gymnasium to bright sunshine.
A good omen, perhaps, for the 157 seniors in the Class of 2014. Amid all the emotions of the day, the graduates were reminded to push aside the sadness of closing one chapter in their lives and the fears of beginning a new one.
“The reason we’re here today is to celebrate and reminisce upon all of the memories from these years and those who helped us get here,” valedictorian Paige Himes said.
Himes, who will move on to the University of Illinois in Urbana, to major in Spanish and English, took her classmates back in time.
“When we were underclassmen, we looked up to the seniors,” Himes said. “We couldn’t figure out how they achieved the greatness we saw. It finally occurred to me that it came from all of their experiences at Dixon High School.”
Alexis Plumb, senior class president, also turned back the clock, this time to their eighth grade commencement. She also told the class to live in the moment – advice she said would serve them well throughout their lives.
“Four years ago, we were in this exact place,” Plumb said. “We were excited and scared to move to high school. We are always so anxious for what the future holds, but we should savor each moment. We’ve sprinted through moments when we should have jogged.”
Whether they be small moments or life’s milestones, they should be enjoyed to their fullest, Plumb said.
“I ask you to look at the class in its entirety today,” Plumb said. “Take the time to take pictures for your family, thank mom for being your personal alarm clock. These moments will mean so much to them for the rest of their lives.”
Salutatorian Annalise Ankney also paid tribute to the people who played key roles in getting the graduates to this special day.
“Without our parents, teachers, friends and family, we wouldn’t be here,” Ankney said.
Ankney asked the graduates to take personal responsibility for their successes and failures, which includes who they allow to influence their lives.
“Surround yourself with positive people,” Ankney said. “Life is too short to spend around people who bring you down. It’s up to you to surround yourself with those people who will be there in good and bad times.”
Pam Tourtillott, Dixon School Board president, surprised the graduates with an idea for closing the gap between the generations – she put her address on pause, grabbed her cellphone, and orchestrated a class selfie.
Tourtillott also urged the class to fully appreciate the importance of the day.
“Take a breath, smile, look around and absorb this ‘remember when’ moment,” Tourtillott said. “This class left its mark. Leave with a sense of pride, and leave your footprint on the world.”
Tourtillott expressed her hope that some of the graduates would decide to leave that footprint in their hometown.
“I hope to see one of you up here speaking to the class of 2024,” she said.
Special recognition was given to seniors who maintained a 3.51 grade-point average over their high school careers, and class members who plan to enter military service.