RACINE — “All of us on the stage here tonight owe an unpayable debt to those in the audience who have been our parents, friends, mentors and teachers. I would like to thank each and every one of you here for helping us realize our full potential, for without you my friends and I would not be here tonight,” said Valedictorian Daniel Dunfee.
“To our families, thank you for everything you have done for us. You created us, forged our core values, morals and ethics, and molded us into who and what you thought best for the world. You supported us in the rough times, carried us through the nightmares, cheered us on in the good times, and loved us through them all,” said Dunfee.
Dunfee asked his fellow graduates to rise.
“Behind me you see the product of the families here tonight. They stand as living, breathing testaments to the ability of their parents and grandparents,” said Dunfee.
“To the teachers, you are our second parents. You encouraged us, taught us and pushed us beyond all imaginable limits. The lessons we have learned from you will not only allow us to better ourselves though education, but better the world through understanding, comprehension and compassion,” said Dunfee. “You have molded the next generation of leaders, and we will do our best to make you proud of the work you have done.”
Dunfee then turned to his classmates on the stage.
“To my class, we finally made it,” said Dunfee.
“We stand at the end of one race to find a marathon ahead of us. One chapter of our lives has ended, but a completely new chapter of life is yet to be written. The authors are you,” said Dunfee.
The valedictorian continued, “Carpe diem. Seize each day as if it were the last you had. Plan for the worst, hope for the best and never give up that hope. When Pandora’s Box was opened, all that remained was hope, and sometimes, faith and hope really are all that we have to go on.”
“We have come a long way since the first day of kindergarten; we have grown in stature, maturity and most importantly in knowledge. We have been tested beyond all conceivable limits, and we have pulled through where others have stumbled and fallen,” said Dunfee.
Dunfee noted that while he and his classmates have made it this far, the race is not finished.
“Be gracious, and be kind, but most important of all, be wise in the choices you make. They define your soul; let it be true, just and good,” said Dunfee.
“We are, and forever will be, Southern Tornadoes,” Dunfee said.
For Salutatorian, Sierra Cleland, it was time to look back at a year full of firsts and last, as well as looking forward to the future.
“This year we faced a lot of firsts. We voted for the first time. We filled out scholarships for the first time. We rode roller coasters for the first time. We played in a district final volleyball game for the first time in 18 years. Our football team went to the playoffs twice. We were the first class to spend all four years in this building,” said Cleland.
“We also faced too many lasts to count,” said Cleland, naming a few such as last game of a particular sport, last band concert, last tests and last goodbyes to the students of SHS.
“As we continue our journey, I know that we will be successful. There are so many successful people with me on this stage tonight. We will have future nurses, teachers, therapists, and engineers. I am so glad to call them my friends,” said Cleland.
The salutatorian concluded, “In the wise words of my uncle, who thought my speech should’ve only been eight words, ‘we came, we saw, we conquered.’ Thank you.”
Both Dunfee and Cleland took time to thank those who had helped them along the way, including parents, friends, family and teachers.
Prior to the valedictorian and salutatorian addresses, the Southern band played Olmpiada, and members of the senior class, accompanied by Chad Dodson on guitar, sang Time of Your Life.
Graduates in the Southern High School Class of 2017 receiving diplomas Saturday included, Ashley Paige Acree, Katelyn Brice Barton, Jaylen Todd Ashton Blanks, Tylar Montell Blevins, Clayton Cash Boso, Abbigaile Isabella Carsey, Wesley Kent Clark, Sierra Shae Cleland, Amanda Kaylee Cole, Curtis Matthew Counts, Bailey Rose Davis, Crysta Jo Davis, Talon Quinn Drummer, Daniel Ryan Dunfee, Michael Shawn Ferrell, Jordan Joel Fisher, Steven Michael George, Kody Russell Greene, Gage Allen Hensley, Michaela Ann Holter, Eli Franklin Hunter, Lucas Waid Hunter
Connor Braxton Jarrell, Coalton Blake Johnson, Marissa Ann Johnson, Macey Lynn Marcinko, Marlee Hope Maynard, David Cy McMillan, Macie Alexandra Michael, Haden Bradley Miller, Haley Cheyanne Musser, Larissa Marie Petrie, Trey Odell Pickens, Brody Jaimz Richards, Crenson Alexander Rogers, Trent Allen Rossiter, Nicholas Adam Roush, Tammara Lynn Sayre, Sara Elizabeth Schenkelberg, Kamryn Nicole Smith, Faith Elizabeth Teaford, Logan Christian Theiss, Tanner Mathew Thorla, Tyler Ryan VanInwagen, Jacob Daniel Weddle, Edgar Daniel Willis II, Clayton Monroe Wood.