RACINE — Looking back and looking forward.
Southern High School Valedictorian Marissa Brooker and Salutatorian Mallory Johnson took time during their addresses during Saturday evening’s Baccalaureate and Commencement Exercises to look back at their time at Southern and look forward to the future.
“For this speech, I was asked to reflect on my time spent here, which has been seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for 13 years. That’s a very long time,” said Johnson.
Johnson then looked at what the Class of 2019 has learned during all of that time at Southern Local.
“Sure, we learned how to read, write, do mathematics, science, and social studies, but I think school has taught us more than just what the state requires,” said Johnson. “For example, tying your shoes was not on the curriculum, but the teachers taught some of us that anyway. … Lessons evolved as we got older, such as how to reason and compromise with each other instead of just yelling and insulting one another when there was conflict. We were taught to work together, forgive each other, and function in society.”
While those things were important, Johnson said that the most important thing taught at Southern Local is how to be “adaptable.”
“We are not the biggest, most prestigious school, but out resourcefulness is what makes us unique,” said Johnson.
“We have to make do with the classes and facilities we’ve got. But, we are lucky enough to have an equipped shop class and weightlifting center. We have a parking lot about the same size as a standard running track. We have hardworking committees such as the band boosters, who scrape every penny together for our musicians. We have teachers and staff that know almost all our names by heart, who pull from their own pockets to take us on field trips, and stay late to grade papers and create lesson plans,” Johnson added.
Johnson said, “All of this going without has made us tougher, stronger, and more innovative. The interactions we had in this building, good or bad, have shaped us into the people we are today. So that’s why I think when we look back we should have Southern Pride.”
Johnson concluded with a quote from radio host Art Linkletter, who said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
For Brooker, it was about looking forward in her speech. But before that, the valedictorian took time to thank those who have helped her along the way.
“I would like to thank all of the staff at Southern High School for pushing me to be the best student that I can be. I would especially like to thank Ms. Ohlinger, Mrs. Pickens, Mr. Buckley and Miss Davis for helping me find my love of science and math,” said Brooker. She also thanked Principal Daniel Otto, Student Council members, and her classmates.
“You all are the best classmates that I could ever ask for. I have been so blessed to have been able to grow up with all of you. I think I can speak for all of you when I say that I am so thankful for the bond that we have. I know I wouldn’t be able to get that kind of connection anywhere else and it is one of my favorite parts of going to Southern,” said Brooker.
“I would like to thank the three most important things in my life: my faith, my family and friends. I would be nowhere without the strength that God has given me and the support that my family and friends have given me.” said Brooker.
Brooker added, “I’d like to thank my parents for telling me one thing when I was growing up: that I can do anything, if I work hard enough. They have always believed in me. … They always encouraged me. They didn’t tell me, ‘oh it will be easy’, they told me it would be hard, but you can do it. I do not think that I would be here if I didn’t have that mindset.”
As Brooker noted, her strengths are more math and science than speaking and writing so she included so numbers in her speech.
“So the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. That number is so big that it is hard to even think about. … We are going to imagine that the history of the Earth is condensed down into a day (24 hours),” said Brooker.
Continuing with the example, Brooker said, “The day starts at midnight and finally at 4 a.m., the first cell appears. Now we jump all the way forward to 8:30 p.m. and the first plants appear in the ocean. At 10:24 p.m., the first animals appear on land and finally, at 11:58 p.m., two minutes before the day is over, humans appear on the Earth.”
“If you think about one lifetime, about 70 years we’ll say, it accounts for 0.000000267 percent of Earth’s history. That equals 20 milliseconds on our scale. The blink of an eye occurs in about 300 milliseconds,” said Brooker.
She added, “So for people who like to say that life happens in a blink of an eye — it’s faster. This statistic just blew y mind and it really made me think about the limited time that we have here on Earth.”
When looking forward, Brooker said she made a list of the five most important things and the five things she spent the most time on and encouraged those in attendance to do the same.
“Do your two lists match up? Because mine sure didn’t. I was spending too much time on things that didn’t really matter … That was a big eye opener for me and it showed me that I needed to start prioritizing the things that meant most to me,” said Brooker.
Brooker concluded, “Time is one of the most valuable things that God gives us and I encourage all of you to not waste it being inside you comfort zone, saying, “it’s good enough”, and not chasing your dreams. Start doing what you want and start doing it now. Don’t wait until tomorrow because just remember, life happens faster than a blink of an eye.”
National Honor Society members for the class of 2019 are Peyton Anderson, Austin Arnold, Marissa Brooker, David Dunfee, Baylee Grueser, Emily Hall, Mallory Johnson, Madison Lisle, Kathryn Matson, and Alex VanMeter.
Graduates receiving honors diplomas are Peyton Anderson, Austin Arnold, Austin Baker, Marissa Brooker, Brayden Cunningham, Noah Diddle, Logan Drummer, Baylee Grueser, William Harmon, Mallory Johnson, Madison Lisle, Kathryn Matson, Reece Reuter, Weston Thorla and Alex VanMeter.
The 2019 Southern High School Graduating Class included Ryan Michael Acree, Brian Jensen Reed Anderson, Peyton Rebecca Anderson, Austin Lee Arnold, Austin Daniel Baker, Laramie Daniel Blevins, Kayla Sue Boyer, Marissa Faith Brooker, Tori Marie Chaney, Auston Dean Colburn, Alexandra Nichole Collingsworth, Abby Danielle Cummins, Brayden Nash Cunningham,
Jacquelynn Sue-Anne Dailey, Noah Bradley Diddle, Logan Ripken Drummer, David Jonathan Dunfee, James Brody Dutton, Kaleb Reece Gheen, Jacynda Gail Glover, Baylee Paige Grueser, Morgan Lynn Haines, Emily ElizabethAnn Hall, Colton Tylor Hamm, William Freeman Harmon, Mikayla Rose Jeanne Hoschar, Jarrett William Hupp, Rylan Colby Jarrell,
Mallory Renae Johnson, Kaylee Lynn Katona, Jordan Marie Knotts, Clayton Warren Landaker, Tatum Marie Landaker, Dalton Lee Layne, Madison Anne Lisle, Hannah Noel Lyons, Kathryn Elaine Matson, Alexander Michael McWilliams, Erica Paige Milliron, Ryan Jeffrey Mills, Hannah Michelle Parsons, Keara Faith Powell, Tysen Scott Steven Pullins, Elizabeth Nicole Reitmire,
Reece Cameron Reuter, Elaina AerinBeccanne Riffle, Ethan Tyler Roberts, Damian Michael Eugene Roush, Shawn Bradley Sayre, Declan Bishop Theiss, Weston Connolly Thorla, Alora Terese VanCooney, Alex Michael Dean VanMeter, Emma McKenzie Wolfe, and Joseph Hudson Wood III.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.