The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Illini West Graduates-They're All Special

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher-Owner

Sunday, eighty-nine seniors were part of the Illini West graduation class of 2009 marking the second graduation for the convergence among the three schools of La Harpe, Carthage, and Dallas City. Kyle Magee, Class Vice President, opened with prayer requesting a blessing on this graduation class and asking that "they make the difference for the good wherever they may find themselves," and courage for those entering the military.

Class Co-President Trey Roberts gave the welcome asking classmates to plan so they will be truely happy in the future. He told them to set goals for their future and figure out ways to achieve them. "If you don't like the path your life has taken thus far, if it does not make you happy, blaze your own trail," Trey said.

Trey thanked parents, teachers, family and friends, and his classmates for helping each come this far.

The top academic leaders of the class who graduated Summa Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.900-4.000 addressed the class - Jessica Boyle, Jaclyn Duffy, Jackie Galloway, and Nicole Junk.

JACKIE Galloway began by saying when they were young they all had amazing plans and that she has seen the dreams of her friends change over the years.

To help the class, she likened the process to the game "Oregon Trail".

"When you encounter a river you have several options to get to the other side. Depending on the situation, one path might appear better than the other and things don't always go as planned. Sometimes you have to try several times to successfully cross the river."

But Jackie said that no matter what you do, you have to cross the river to continue on. She reminded them that life is not a game where you can pause and come back when you're feeling up to it, nor can you turn off the system when you make a mistake and hope your progress isn't saved.

"In life," she said, "you have to live each day to the fullest and take some chances or else you'll be stuck wishing you had."

She illustrated this with a lyric from Nickelback:

"My best friend gave me the best advice.

He said each day's a gift and not a given right.

Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind.

And try to take the path less traveled by,

That first step you take is the longest stride."

Jackie ended by saying "There won't always be a tomorrow for second chances" and told her class they were prepared for the challenge, now make the most of it.

Nicole Junk told classmates they can't take their time for granted and to spend it wisely, take advantage of an opportunity.

"No one wants to wake up one morning and wonder where all the time went."

"Make your future."

Jackie Duffy shared a meaningful quote of Robert Schuller's with her classmates: "I had rather attempt something great and fail, then attempt nothing and succeed."

She said their class had accomplished great things - a football championship, school convergence and graduation are just a few.

"We've been through the many changes and persevered and made it to where we are today. We have great things ahead of us."

Duffy said, "We all have a place in this world, no matter how big or how small..... Dream big, believe in yourself. Be remembered for doing something great. You will never really know what you can accomplish, until you try."

Jessica Boyle ended the addresses to her class by reminding them that "When Thomas Edison made the light bulb he took many chances and didn't give up. It took him approximately 1,000 tries before he made the light bulb right. He stayed optimistic and kept trying."

She suggested to classmates to never give-up, stay positive, make the best of it by "taking chances and following your heart."

She ended with a quote from Mark Twain:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds. Explore. Dream. Discover."

American Legion Good Citizenship Awards were presented by Mr. Darrell Kraft to Brittney Rand, daughter of Keith and Jeri Rand and Kyle Hartzell, son of Tom and Pam Hartzell.

Kraft also introduced six members of the class of 2009 going into the military:

Rick Blumer, US Army, parents Derek and Dovetta Helmers.

Alex Bentzinger, U.S. Navy, son of Nicole Bower and Steven Bentzinger.

Dakota Hicks, U.S. Marines, son of Christal Hicks and Robert Hicks.

Trey Roberts, U.S. Army, son of Ken and Vi Roberts and Selina Van Vernon Tucker.

Phillip Tomow, U.S. Air Force, son of T.J. and Sandra Tomow.

Peter VanVooren, U.S. Navy, son of Greg and Ann VanVooren and Robin VanVooren.

Mrs. Larry Kane presented the Daughter's of The American Revolution Citizenship Awards based upon the five qualities of Honor, Service, Courage, Leadership and Patriotism to Jaclyn Nicole Duffy, granddaughter Nicole Duffy, granddaughter of Junior and Marcia Duffy and daughter of Julee Thurman; and Ross Allen Hutson, son of John and Sandy Hutson.

Those graduating Magna Cum Laude with GPA of 3.750-3.890 are Breegan Long, Kristi Lorenz, Taryn Martini, and Rachel Morrison.

Those graduating Cum Laude with GPA of 3.600-3.749 are Erica Eddington, Audra Husband, Jazmyn Passmore, Alison Pettit, Kourtni Reed, Kayla Twaddle, and Derek VanFleet.

Kourtni Reed class Secretary presented the class for their diplomas before the retiring of the colors and recessional played by the Illini West High School Band.

Class President Trey Roberts giving the welcoming speech. Trey will be entering the U.S. Army upon graduation. He is the son of Ken and Vi Roberts and Selina Van Vernon Tucker.

Three of the four top students from left: Nicole Junk, Jackie Duffy, and Jessica Boyle. (Jackie Galloway not shown). All graduated with GPA of 3.75-4.00)

American Legion Good Citizenship Awards were presented by Mr. Darrell Kraft to Brittney Rand, daughter of Keith and Jeri Rand and Kyle Hartzell, son of Tom and Pam Hartzell.