The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Illini West Graduates Third Class Of Seniors Sunday

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

Carthage- One hundred eighteen seniors marched down the aisle at Illini West's 3rd graduating class of seniors to the familiar Pomp and Circumstance played by the Illini West Band.

The presentation of Colors by the American Legion Honor Guard, and the Pledge of Allegiance were followed by Senior's Craig Corzatt's Invocation.

Illini West Principal Brad Gooding, welcomed those to this notable event which marks 13 years of education in the public school system and three years in the newly converged environment of former rivals for most of the graduates. As Freshmen, the majority were students from Dallas City, La Harpe, and Carthage school districts.

On this special Sunday, May 30, 2010, these stood together, united and ready to celebrate the victories they've achieved together, as well as individually. Each are now, facing another change, and perhaps excited to move on into areas of their own choosing.

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.' This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson tells the story of our class," said Natalie Northup. "We are not followers, but leaders, and have made our mark here at Illini West. For this reason we have chosen this quote as our class motto."

Northup thanked all the supporters in their lives - family, friends, faculty.

Coming together as Sophomores and rivals wasn't easy, but, "We take pride in saying we have united together and made everlasting friendships."

Natalie said, "The Class of 2010 has come together and formed a stronger bond than any of us could have imagined. We no longer think of ourselves as three separate towns, but a united community. As a class we have started a long list of Illini West traditions that will continue for many years to come.

Natalie said, "We have built our character in the areas of strength, courage, and wisdom. What we have learned here at Illini West will remain an important part of our life for years to come."

Natalie ended, "We will leave our mark in the world, just as we have left our trail here at Illini West."

Kelly Johnson reflected on how great it was to be in high school just four years ago, and of the overwhelming experiences of change.

"But, as John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

Kelly told of the transitions of new teachers, tougher schedules and experienced seniors, "But, all the worries seemed to vanish as soon as we realized that we were not alone.

"Throughout our Freshman year the seeds for lasting friendships were planted and many great memories were made."

At the end of the year, Kelly said, "the hope that came from joining...schools excited each of us. We anticipated all of the opportunities and new friendships."

Caitlin Robertson, "No one knew what to expect, but I believe the experiences here have surpassed everyone's expectations."

"These three years have been full of memories."

Caitlin talks about the class's Sophomore year as an "Adventure!" She said, "We met someone new almost every day and had a blast with all of our new friends."

She said, "We also turned 16, got our license:drove a little too fast.

She reminisced of football games in the rain and the state game in Champaign "When we became champions!"

"The dances were also some of the best....especially Prom which we planned and made amazing."

Caitlin said, "We stepped out of our comfort zones and we got a glimpse of the endless possibilities that lay out there for us."

Hannah Dorothy talked about the future, "Where we will go, what we will do, and who we will become." She said, "Many of us have a strong sense in where we are going." She warned that many times life doesn't go as planned, but hopes graduates will persevere and follow the path that's made for each of them.

"It will take an enormous amount of hard work and dedication," she said. "Whether your plans are to attend college, enter the work force or defend our country in the military service, know that your future after high school will be what you make of it."

"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence." She finished with "be open to new opportunity" and "make your dreams a reality."

"Senior year is unlike any other," Jessica Siverly said, but it won't hit you until graduation. "The Class of 2010 has given Illini West something to be proud of:14 seniors representing as Illinois State Scholars, trophies brought home by our star athletes, respect the class has earned from the community..... We have been an example for each other and to the younger students."

Kayla Bess concluded the speeches with "So, are you ready?"

Even though the "interrogations" of "what are you going to do after high school" seemed to repetitive, Kayla said it was still exciting to tell someone about your dreams."

"I am excited about starting a whole new way of life, but I am also nervous, worried, and just plain scared of what I don't know."

But Kayla said she knows the class is very familiar with overcoming the unknown.

"Whether it be through grades, athletics, creativity, kindness, or dedication, our class has demonstrated that we are bound to create futures worth recognizing."

Kayla wished her classmates, "Good luck," in absolutely everything they strive for, and "Congratulations."

In Seniors future plans, last week, 106 graduates are pursuing higher education with 51 going to a 4-year college and 55 choosing a 2-year community college.

Three graduates say they will be taking training in heavy equipment and entering the work force, 4 others are entering the work force, and one is undecided.

That leaves four students who say they will be entering the military in service to our country, 3 in the U.S. Navy (Joslin Dowell, Daniel Morrison, and Spencer Brogan Smith), and one will enter the United States Air Force (Joey Snyder).

Seniors who were members of the National Honor Society are: Kayla Bess, Lea Brodie, Hannah Dorothy, Bryan Fox, Sara Frakes, Carl Hartweg, Jamee Herriman, Jessica Horton, Kelly Johnson, Cassandra Jones, Michael Lafferty, Natalie Northup, Caitlin Robertson, Jessica Siverly, Shanna Smith, Bethany Willey, Timothy Yex, Sarah Ziegler.

Honored as Cum Laude (GPA of 3.600-3.749) are Maria Gambrell, Haylee Miller, Travis Wilson, Timothy Yex.

Honored as Magna Cum Laude (GPA of 3.750-3.890) are Lea Brodie, Garrett Burt, Stefan Flynn, Sara Frakes, Abby Geissler, Alicia Geissler, Chelsea Gibson, Lyndsey Gutowski, Cassandra Jones, Michael Lafferty, Morgan Merritt.

Honored as Summa Cum Laude (GPA of 3.900-4.000) are Allison Dooley, Carl Hartweg, Jessica Horton, Shanna Smith, Sarah Ziegler, plus the six who gave special speeches to the Class of 2010: Natalie Northup, Kelly Johnson, Caitlin Robertson, Hannah Dorothy, Jessica Siverly, and Kayla Bess.

American Legion Good Citizenship Awards were presented by Vietnam Veteran and American Legion member, Mr. Michael Blythe to Caitlin Robertson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kent Robertson, and Michael Lafferty, son of Mr. and Mrs. Tim Lafferty. -photo by Shana Jackson, The Quill