BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison High School Principal Greg Smith told Fort Madison’s 135 graduating seniors that “life is a messy place. Embrace the mess.”
At Saturday’s hour-long commencement ceremony at Fort Madison High School, Smith told the graduates, right after they flipped their tassels, they should face the failures that life will surely bring, and keep fighting back.
“Life is a messy place. Embrace the mess, and don’t shy away from the hard work that it takes to do the right thing. When it all falls apart – and it will – embrace the failure, stand up, and try again,” he said.
The graduation ceremony did not include the naming of any valedictorian and salutatorians, but the seniors elected two class speakers and this year Braxtyn McGhghy and LilliAnna Scott were chosen to address their peers.
McGhghy, the outgoing student body president, also looked to the challenges of the world ahead and said the bonds they’ve made during their school years should be the basis for their success.
“There is know question that these challenging times are invaluable lessons. However these lessons would not be possible without the relationships we’ve built and the bonds we’ve made,” McGhghy said.
“Hopefully these bonds will continue on. To the class of 2019 I salute you, I congratulate you, and I thank you. We made it.”
Scott, the outgoing Student Body Treasurer, said just because you come from a small town, it shouldn’t dictate that you always think that way.
“Everyone here knows you, where you came from, who you’re related to you and you can walk down the hallway and see somebody like Mr. Ehlers ask you, ‘Hey, how’s your sister doing.’ We’ve all worked hard to get here today and and I’m proud of us. But don’t let this be the end,” Scott said.
“The message I want to leave you with today is that just because we’re small town kids, doesn’t mean we have to have small dreams. Dream big. Today is your day and this is the moment you’ve been chasing. Thanks for the memories Class of ’19 and don’t forget to dream big.”
Superintendent Erin Slater told the students to enjoy their time and celebrate their accomplishments, but don’t forget the plan.
“Every journey has a plan. Review your plan often. Know if you’re on track. Know if you need to ask for help. Know that everyone in this gymnasium is pulling for you and if called upon we’ll be right by your side to help you,” Slater said.
“Class of 2019 enjoy this time. It’s a time to be excited, a time to feel proud and let your journey begin.”
Smith finalized by telling the graduates that the journey should be full of moments and those moments should also include charity.
“Your formal education has ended, but the lifelong work that you will apply and what you’ll learn about yourself is just about to start. This is something I know to be true – while you’re chasing your dreams always remember to be thankful. Look at life through the other end of the telescope.”
“What I’m saying is go out and do all the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose a fortune. But as you do all these things, remember to extend a hand to those that need you,” Smith said.
The 2019 Senior Class Motto is “Our life is before us, our past is behind us, but our memories are forever with us.”
Other class officers included Alyse Schmidt, Class President, who also led the Pledge of Allegiance; Olivia Koechle, Student Body Vice President, and Chloe Blind, Student Body Secretary.