Promising words sent to Hononegah High School graduates toward prosperous futures


Hononegah graduates anxiously awaited a drop of purple and gold balloons.

Promising words toward prosperous futures were sent to Hononegah Community High (HCHS) graduates on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.

Wearing purple gowns with gold sashes and matching caps, 461 students entered to “Pomp and Circumstance,” played by the HCHS band. Supportive cheering filled the room.

Under the direction of choir director Mrs. Carolyn Frieden, senior choir members sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” in perfect harmony.

Student Council president Magen Franklin warmly welcomed everyone. “I would like to extend congratulations to each and every one of you. Four years that seemed that they would never end to four years that have flown by,” Franklin said.

“We have had many lasts, and now have the opportunity to experience many firsts, accompanied by many changes... What would you like to be when you grow up? This question has guided our futures.”

Franklin credited families and teachers. “Success is internal, it is how you treat your friends, it is a path, not a destination. Instead of asking yourself what you want to be, I ask you to ask yourself who you want to be, as a good starting point to the future. It is who you are that will get you further in your career.”

“They will remember you for the way you made the others feel, and the person you showcase yourself as. Don't wait too long to ask yourself who you want to be.”

“As Ferris Bueller once said, 'Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.'”

HCHS Principal Chad Dougherty named all of the students who are going to be serving our country. “I look forward to seeing your picture on the military wall in the future,” Dougherty said. “Your military journey may just be beginning, I want you to know that you are not alone.” Dougherty asked that all veterans rise to be recognized. “Thank you to your service to this great nation.”

“Class of 2023, you have written an interesting legacy,” Dougherty said.

“The Class of 2023 came in 2019 and got a t-shirt that said '100th Freshman Class.' This was also my first year as Principal,” Dougherty said.

Freshman year came to a close on March 13, 2019,” Dougherty said.

“You participated in four seasons of sports, though abbreviated. Your sophomore year you were either purple or gold. By junior year, things started to get back to normal. Senior year, the original portion of the high school building turns 100. You truly have been part of that history.”

“You've capitalized on what you have learned from your teachers, and as a class have demonstrated some awesome feats. The challenges you have faced along the way never stopped you from achieving. You have to endure and you did.”

“We have 103 students as summa cum laude- GPA of 4.0 or better, 33 were magna cum laude- and 75 cum laude.”

Hononegah was again ranked as the 76th school in the state, out of 673 public high schools. “Class of 2023, thank you to your contribution to your rich legacy,” Dougherty said.

“You found your way, you made a positive impact on your school. We know you and we know you will make a difference after you leave Hononegah.”

Dougherty recognized early graduates and named the Top 25 students.

The HCHS choir perfectly harmonized on the song, “You are the Music.”

Mrs. Maureen Schnaper introduced salutatorian Austin Kirwin. Mrs. Schnaper spoke fondly of Kirwin, his work ethic, his ability to learn well, and for being a great human being.

Kirwin opened by thanking his parents, teachers and friends.

“Graduates, you have made it to the next chapter in your lives. You are the biggest contributor to your success. Whatever path you chose to take is the correct one, as long as you work to achieve what you set out to do. Your dream deserves everything. It is very important to never give up, and to take risks, Apply for that job interview, join that new club.”

“Even if you fail, it isn't the end of the world. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before making a light bulb. He didn't fail 10,000 times, he found 10,000 ways it didn't work.”

“Allow yourself to make mistakes, allow yourself to take on opportunities to help you learn and grow. Dream big. As long as you put in the work, you will be rewarded. Challenge yourself, and ask for help. Be confident, take pride in the things you accomplish. Grow your network and learn from the people around you. Oftentimes the greatest teacher is another person's failure. Keep your head up and keeping pushing forward.”

Mr. Brad Christoff introduced valedictorian Jason McCallister as an excellent student who had a positive impact on others.

“We have all grown immensely over the last four years, and managed to overcome more obstacles than anyone would have ever expected from us,” McCalliser opened.  “From living through a global pandemic to surviving through the freshman class. We faced the disappointment of missed opportunities like school dances, and sports competitions.”

“In our moments of uncertainty, we discovered our true strength, our resilience. We organized virtual study groups, shifted to online clubs. Countless late nights of studying, the mountains of assignments and the pressure to excel academically. Our dedication and hard work has paid off.”

“Now that we have finished high school, we must decide what our future is, what we want to do, who we want to be, and what we want to achieve.”

“Believe in the beauty of your dreams, turn your seemingly impossible dreams into realities. Let that belief fuel your determination, and shape your path toward purpose, fulfillment and future success.”

“Standing on the brink of a new chapter, let's remember that the resilience we have built up continues on the face of future challenges. As we embark on our future endeavors, let's carry the lessons we have learned, the bonds we have forged, and the memories we have created together.”

Superintendent Mike Dugan certified the Class of 2023.

HCHS School Board president David Kurlinkus brought greetings and congratulations.

“Today you are here as graduates. You may return as a parent of a graduate, faculty or a school board member.”

“Remember all of the people who have been there for you. We all assume we will be here tomorrow and that those we care about will be here tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed. Don't take anyone or anything for granted. This might change in a heartbeat. No one can predict the future.”

“To preserve our society [you must] engage with those you disagree with. It doesn't make them a bad person just because they disagree with you. Listening is becoming a lost art. Be compassionate to others. Always seek the truth no matter how hard it is to find... Only by showing respect will you receive respect.... How you react to disappointments will determine the type of person you will be known as.”

“The diploma you are to receive from Ho-no-ne-gah [shows] you are a graduate that supports excellence in education.

Ms. Kaylee Libby and Ms. Kelly Schmitz gave a roll call as diplomas were handed out.

Senior class president Micheal Long presented the class of 2023. Long made a promise that he and his brother will organize a class reunion in five years.

A siren sounded, prompting purple and gold balloons to fall from a net.

The HCHS band played the school song, followed by a recessional of “Trumpet Voluntary.”

The 2023 class motto is,  “You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so... get on your way!”

Chase Kemmet, Gabriella Murphy, Adam Steege, Braydon Savatski-Lynde, Brady Foss and Erin Shcner met up to celebrate their graduation from Hononegah Community High School on Saturday, May 27 at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford.
Ashton Beaulieu and Maddie Keith shared a special time together at HCHS graduation.
The family of Lyons Buckley had fun celebrating his graduation by holding up cardboard cutouts in a likeness of his face.
Autumn and Andrew Mohring met up with their mother Que after graduation.
Chase Simpson had the full support of his family on graduation day and throughout his high school days.
Graduate Solomon Keip received loving support from his mom Jenny Maragia.
Ella Greenfield and Kyele Journy congratulated one another on their graduation.
Friends Fiona Saunders and Aliyah Siehoff wished each other well on graduation.
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