Storm Lake High School's 159 seniors shared an emotional graduation day Sunday.
Speaking to their classmates were Amanda Proczak, Michael Schulz and Jacob Lyon.
Amanda, class president, told her classmates, making up a sea of green, that she had done some thinking about the school symbol, and found that a "Tornado" was a fitting mascot for the class. "Together we have been through a whirlwind known as high school, while learning to be strong and powerful during the process."
She shared memories from the school years and pointed out many of the talents that her classmates possess.
"I hope that all of you will keep these memories in a whirlwind for years to come.
"Many of you are probably very nervous about entering the real world But I know you guys can do it. I want you to go confidently into the world and show how powerful of a Tornado you are."
She concluded, "Whether you are going (out) to become a Cavalier or a Gopher next year, I want you all to remember that first and foremost you are a Tornado. As you walk out those doors for the last time, I want you to take with you the whirlwind of strength and power that being a Tornado has created."
Jacob, student body president, began with a look back.
"In these 13 years together, we've experienced a lot of things that are a little out of the ordinary and I don't think that our class is deserving of a typical speech. (This is) a description much more deserving of our class."
He recalled that the elementary years were filled with broken records and broken limbs - and Mrs. Wiggins, who made sure they finished eating their peas.
"Our class also left our mark in the lunch room with ketchup on the ceiling due to pounding of bottles of ketchup."
Middle school brought students from all of the elementary together and many new faces.
"A whole new world of independence was opened up to us and we used it to its full potential."
He brought back the feelings that followed the Sept. 11 events and dealing with teacher Mrs. Kappenmen's return of cancer.
"Together we were forced to mature quickly and rely on each other to get through the extremely pressing times. We formed bonds in middle school that still hold true today because of it."
And finally, "The Class of 2008 stretched its wings our senior year. We led in almost everything: sports, music, speech, student council and even budging in the lunch line."
Jacob continued, "As we look to college I could spout off a whole bunch of generic comments about, 'It's not really goodbye' but I'll skip all of that. We will miss each other but we still share experiences of what happened and what will come to be during college. I congratulate the Class of 2008 for working so hard and being so uniquely talented. We are truly a family that has grown together and helped lead this school. We've accomplished so much that I know every one of us will go far and help change the world."
Michael Schulz, who spent his senior year on the University of Iowa campus fulfilling an honors program, asked this question of his classmates: "How do you measure success? By money, power and prestige? Perhaps by the pieces of paper you hang on the wall. Perhaps it's immediately succeeding at everything you ever tried. In my opinion, doing only those things at which you'll succeed from the beginning is a form of failure. Life would be quite boring if you were successful the first time you tried everything.
"That isn't real success. Success comes when you've tried and tried to do something and you're frustrated and angry and tired, but something inside you makes you keep going, and when you eventually succeed, you've not only found a solution to a problem, but you've also found something about yourself. I think they call that growth. I also think it's a prerequisite for graduating."
He also complimented the teaching staff at the Storm Lake schools.
"It's been said that we are standing on the shoulders of our teachers. That being the case, I like to think we're standing on the shoulders of giants. We' ve had some wonderful teachers here. The teachers who are passionate about their subject, who are passionate about their students, who taught not only the material we've already forgotten but also lessons about life. The greatest lessons our teachers taught weren't necessarily from a textbook. It was when they inspired new curiosity or when they coerced us to excel (yes, it came to that sometimes) or when they told us to stay our of trouble. These are the things that will have a longer lasting impact on our lives."
He closed his speech with a wish for his classmates.
"I wish you all continued success in life. Don't be afraid to have a little optimism about the future. You only get one life, I hope yours is a happy one."
Members of the National Honor Society were recognized - Jeremy Boese, David Brady, Michaela Brungardt, Jordan Carlson, Kenneth Claypool, Amber Cords, Clare Cullen, Jacie Dahlstrom, Leslie Elizalde, Dylan Freking, Lauren Hall, Marjorie Halverson, Darren Johnson, Amy Kessler, Daren Koehler, Travis Kopfman, Jacob Lyon, Rachael Mast, Keaton Murphy, Cory Nelson, Whitney O'Bannon, Chanthavy Phimsen, Amanda Proczak, Morgan Rauch, Tyler Reinert, Christopher Reis, Collin Schultz, Nicholas Serianni, Kayla Shadlow, Tiffany Sierra, Abigail Smith, Kelly Smith, Sally Stark, Leah Staton, Nathan Tucker, Geoffrey Ullerich, Jordan Utech, Amber Weaver, Amber Woodford and Matthew Zylstra.
Students were also honored for their academics with medallions. Three students - Clare Cullen, Jeremy Boese and Jacob Lyon - earned a 4.0 grade point average for their high school career.
Students earning a 3.75 grade point average or above and were Michaela Brungardt, Darren Johnson, Amy Kessler, Rachael Mast, Keaton Murphy, Amanda Proczak, Morgan Rauch, Tyler Reinert, Collin Schultz, Kelly Smith, Geoffrey Ullerich, Amber Woodford and Matthew Zylstra.
Students earning a grade point average of 3.5-3.75 were David James Brady, Brigad Enchill, Haley Fitzpatrick, Marjorie Halverson, Cory Nelson, Chanthavy Phimsen, Nicholas Serianni and Sally Stark.
Fifty-one of the students have enrolled in the Storm Lake High School/Iowa Central Community College/Buena Vista University Charter school.
Class motto - "Facing Graduation"
Faces of old and faces of new,
People we know and people we knew.
Growing together than drifting apart,
Always an ending and now a new start.
At graduation we all grow nearer
And all of our friend's seem so much dearer.
And as we say our final goodbye,
One last embrace and one more cry,
A "keep in touch" and a "promise I will,"
A "remember when" but, better still,
A place in my heart, you'll always stay,
This is what's said as we go our own way.