Jazlyn Oberg, Owen Nommowich, Saylor Kieper, and Tia Leindecker graduated in Hononegah High School’s Class of 2024.

Cheers and applause filled the BMO Center in Rockford as Hononegah Community High School’s Class of 2024 entered into commencement on Saturday, May 25 at the BMO Center in Rockford.

HCHS Principal Chad Dougherty gave a warm welcome.

Under the direction of Carolyn Frieden the senior choir had sung our national anthem with perfection, as the HCHS American Sign Language Club signed the lyrics.

Student Body President, Molly Hughes shared an important and meaningful message, “This is a bittersweet moment as our journey here is coming to an end. Some of us have been going to school together for over a decade.

“I am proud to say that I am part of this graduating class that has overcome great adversity, and others have fought silent battles.

“No matter where the next course of your life takes you it is important to remember where you came from and the lessons we can learn from each other.

“My one wish is that every single one of us finds success after we leave here today.

“Success is determined by the kind of person you are. In a world full of hate, violence and discrimination, please choose to be kind. Our communities will never thrive if we forget that we are all human.

“In elementary school we read the book, “Wonder “ A book about a young boy named August Pullman, who was entering school for the first time and was born with a facial difference that set him apart from the rest of his classmates.

“The lessons told represent everything that is important today. In Auggie’s case it only took one person to be kind and see beyond their differences.”

Hughes stressed the importance and power of being a friend.

Hughes shared a quote from Wonder, “The best way to measure how much you have grown isn’t by the inches or number of laps you can run around the track, or your grade point average, those things are important to be sure, it is what you’ve done with your days, how you to spend your time, and who you have touched this year

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives,” Auggie Pullman.

”Graduates, this is your standing ovation, celebrate all that you’ve done.”

Dougherty named students who are going into the armed forces and various branches stand to be recognized.

Students’ official pictures will be added to a military wall in Hononegah,” Veterans in the audience received greatly deserved recognition.

Dougherty reflected to the graduates freshman year, remembering the challenges that students faced because of Covid. He lauded the grit and determination of students.

Staff members were thanked for their support.

Dougherty recognized students with the highest Grade Point Averages. “We have 85 students who are graduating Summa Cum Laude, 39 Magna Cum Laude, and 37 Cum Laude. We had 169 seniors take 462 AP exams.”

“These impressive statistics are the reason that Hononegah ranks 59 out of 673 schools in top nine percent of the state in U.S News and World Report and the number one school in the Rockford Metropolitan region.

“Of our top 26 the grade point average went beyond the top number of 4.5, with our students reaching a 4.68 GPA. SAT scores landed at 13.77.”

Dougherty shared a message from 2024 graduate Gabe Kohl, “I want everyone in the class to know that even if you weren’t among the elite high academic achievers in this class you have made an enormous difference to everybody that is sitting to your left or right. Yes it is important what we have done in the past four years, but it is more important what we do in our futures, that we take our time to really live and love life to the fullest.”

Dougherty said. “We all know that you will make the world a better place because you made Hononegah a better place when you were there. Know that it is your truth to go out and change the world. Challenge yourself to make the world a better place, it needs you.”

Early graduates who completed school in just seven semesters were named.

Dougherty introduced the Top 25 of the class, with several ties raising this number to 26 in 2024.

After technical difficulties the choir opted to perform an outstanding acapella version of “Stand By Me.”

Golden Apple winner, and math teacher Alex Hartz gave an introduction of Salutatorian Jacob McClarty.

He outlined McClarty’s athletic prowess and academic achievements. Jacob is pursuing a degree in Astrophysics.

McLarty opened by saying, “When I first learned that I was second in the class I was very excited and proud. I received a lot of encouraging comments like, “Only second,” and “You’re the first loser.

“I want to remind you to be in the moment.”

McClarty told the story of a failed at home experiment while trying to suck an egg into an old Starbucks coffee bottle.

“When we tried to light the egg our first few attempts were unsuccessful. The obvious solution was to add paper with nail polish, and to light it with a match. When trying again we made a mini explosion, thankfully we didn’t burn the house down.Being the geniuses that we are we never peeled off the shell.

“This is a moment we will never forget because we were busy living in the present.”

McClarty quoted educator Micheal Stevens, “Be bored, miss out, fall behind, feel timing passing, lose track of time, you might not have the time of your life, but you will have more time in your life. “

McClarty reminded everyone, “Spend time with family, friends, and in nature. Make something explode, be the first loser, enjoy where you are now, you will not regret it.”

School Counselor and club Advisor, Mrs. Aya Ivacic introduced the 2024 Valedictorian Sara Salinas. Salinas was a Triathlete and a strong club leader. She is studying environment, geography and urbanization, and is inspiring to pursue an environmental law degree.”

Salinas honored the memory of School psychologist and Girls Cross Country Coach Darryl Rohrer who passed away this spring.

“He taught us an important lesson,“ Never take for granted the gift you have been given. Comparison and jealousy are disrespectful to our gifts.

“Look at your gifts, your privileges, use them for good, use them to lift others up, not to put them down. Speak up for someone, not over them, use your achievements to inspire not to gloat. “

“Life is much more enjoyable when you are kind to yourself and others,” Salinas said.

She concluded with words from Al Woods from his own Valedictorian speech. He shared a message of having faith in yourself and others.

Superintendent Mike Dugan certified the 105th class in the district. “Go forth, be happy, do great things.”

Diplomas were handed out to 474 students.

Board of Education President Dave Kurlinkus said, “My friend Darryl Rohrer always told me that what I say in these speeches is what graduates need to hear.

“I ask that you pause to think about how you have solved problems, you learned not what to think, but how to think.”

“Your friends, family, and the faculty, they are your biggest fans. We all assume that we and those we care about will be here tomorrow. Never take anyone for granted, no one can predict the future.

“You must be able to engage with those you disagree with. Civil discourse must not be lost. Only by showing respect will you receive respect, set a goal to be that someone. Always seek the truth.

“How you react to disappointment will determine the kind of person you want to be known as, only you can truly define your best. “Being kind costs nothing.”

Class President Paige Bryer reminded everyone to be good to people, quoting Taylor Swift.

Bryer asked students to move their tassels from left to right purple and gold balloons dropped in celebration, propelling graduates into the future.

As the band played, all joined in singing the school song.

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