New grads exit with fond memories

Photo by: Paul Wood/The News-Gazette, Sam Guo talks about his five years at Urbana Uni High after its graduation ceremony Saturday, May 20, 2017.

University Laboratory High School rocked with Prince and Abba, while Judah Christian had a reverent tone with religious songs. But both marked the bittersweet joy of graduation Saturday and the end of an epoch for the seniors.

The graduates all spoke after the ceremonies about how they will miss friends who are heading to different schools and states, but are excited about the future. Tuscola High School also held its graduation Saturday, and several more will today.

The sun peeked out just as Judah Christian finished its graduation ceremonies, and Nick Stone was basking in the light and the day. A multi-sport athlete, Stone was especially grateful for his friends during his time at Judah — where he started as a preschooler.

“There are 13 of us who have gone all the way through to graduation together. It’s been our whole lives,” said Stone, of Champaign, who will move on to the University of Illinois to study business.

Volleyball standout Emma Cottrell agreed that her favorite memories were of her fellow graduates. “I’ll always remember all the friends, all the years,” she said. Another favorite memory? English class. She’ll study literature at Illinois Wesleyan.In the valedictorian speech, Emily Black said “the past years have been a whirlwind.” “I’ve been blessed by this place and will not leave unchanged,” she said, learning an important lesson in the love of God.

The guest speaker was well-known to some of the graduates — former Athletic Director Bryan Mead. Now that he has his doctorate, next year’s entering class will know him as the high school principal. Mead said he’d really bonded with graduating students on Judah’s senior trip to Puerto Rico.

Later Saturday afternoon, Uni High held its own ceremony at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. The commencement address was delivered by Elizabeth Majerus, the executive teacher in the department of English, who opened it with a few minutes of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a story that mixes love and change.


In recognition of the brightness of many Uni students, she noted that the classic was “below your reading level.” But it touched many of the graduates. After the ceremony, Sam Guo said he’ll miss Uni.

“It was five years, the end of an era,” he said. But he’ll stay in town, studying computer science at the UI.

Source: Paul Wood/The News Gazette