June 16, 2024

‘This is our day of triumph’

The CCHS class of 2024 says farewell

Creston High School honor students from the class of 2024 pose after commencement Sunday. There were 127 students listed in the class.

Another class come and gone, the Creston Community High School class of 2024 said its goodbye Sunday as they crossed the stage, collecting their diploma and moving their tassel.

Five of the class’s 14 valedictorians spoke to the class, their families and other students, sharing memories, lessons and words of encouragement.

“We have all overcome a multitude of challenges and made a plethora of memories, both good and bad,” Carson Cooper said to the crowd. “However, it is at this point where our lives truly begin. It is at this point, where we venture forth unto greater destinies and make our mark on this world. Whether you’ve gone to school here all your life, or moved to this district, this is our day of triumph, the day in which we cross the threshold that is our childhood. Up until this moment, we have been building up strength, that of which will allow us to make it in this world — to grab hold of our potential and become not just what we want to be, but what we need to be for ourselves.”

Cooper continued, saying it’s not just about the best study habits or having a career, but rather, how to make it in this world.

“We are now adventurers, pioneers, about to explore the world that truly surrounds us. The world that drives all of humanity towards the future, through the unstoppable flow of time. For the past years of our lives we have been united together, sharing our experiences. Classes, field trips, sporting events, concerts, we all share a bond. As a class, and as companions, we have grown together throughout our life.”

Two valedictorians, Denton Lane and Dillon Starlin, talked about how they transitioned from stressful freshman years, to the best years of their lives.

“Intimidated, immature freshman me would have stressed himself out over the little things, like a small assignment or a simple presentation,” Lane said. “He made things much harder than they had to be, and by doing this, he did not have the most enjoyable freshman year. However, I’ve learned to deal with stressful situations through a lesson that has stuck with me throughout high school — to value the small things in life and leave time to do the things that made me, me.”

Starlin said the laid-back lifestyle he had during the COVID pandemic set the tone for the beginning of his high school career. “When I entered high school, I had not established any goal other than having good grades,” he said. “I did not play football. I quit basketball. I took no part in extra-curriculars. I did not go out of my way to meet new people. I was not living to my full potential and this made me hate high school. It wasn’t until I applied myself that I truly appreciated high school. For that, I have to thank my Panther family for pushing to become a better student, athlete and citizen.”

For Lane, it was focusing on the little things in life that switched his mentality.

“We all made it through freshman year, and we learned that we can overcome any adversity or challenge that life has sent our way, and we will continue to do this when we walk out those doors today. But, I would like to remind you, in the future when we achieve those goals we’ve strived for, reach those milestones, have the best moments in our lives, and the worst. Don’t forget about the small things in life that make you, you. The things in your life that seems pointless, but mean so much. Like a short walk after a long, stressful day, listening to your favorite song or playlist, or having a fun night with some friends. These little things can do so much more than we think, they improve our mental health, our mood and our outlook on life. So while we reach for the stars, make sure to enjoy life and do what makes you, you.”

Starlin said it was about applying himself and working to be the best. “Being the best means giving your maximum effort to fulfill your potential. Put in the extra time and dedicate yourself to be the best student, the best football player, the best musician or the best friend, parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparents, colleague or teacher,” he said. “Whatever that may be, find what you love, who you love and pursue it. I promise that an unrivaled work ethic and a growth mindset will create success, and you will begin to see yourself become the best.”

While Starlin and Lane gave words of advice on perseverance, valedictorian Tucker Rohrig focused on being appreciative and supporting others. He did this through movie references.

“When you think of a classic movie what comes to mind? Is it the 2006 Disney Pixar Film, ‘Cars?’ Maybe it’s the movie ‘Top Gun.’ Maybe it’s ‘Footloose,’ ‘The Lion King,’ ‘8 Seconds,’ ‘Happy Gilmore,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ ‘Talladega Nights,’ or even ‘Step Brothers.’ Now, I know what you’re thinking: what in the world do these movies have in common?” Rohrig said. “No matter what the movie is, no matter how out of pocket or different they may be, there is always a main character who achieves their goal in the end.”

But though everyone is the main characters in their own lives, Rohrig gave a reminder to look at those in the background.

“The ‘main characters’ in the stories are not the part we need to remember about the movies. The aspect that is similar in all these movies is that there is always someone behind the main character to help them to succeed. Someone that is always there to push them through all the obstacles and hardships that fall in their path. I know that every single one of us has someone in mind that has helped them get here today. The person that has been there for us in our lowest of lows and highest of highs. The one that has been there to comfort us when we are struggling and put us on the back when we succeed. Whether that be a parent, teacher, friend, family member or teammate, all of us have relied on someone else to help us through our crazy lives.”

While some may strive to be Lightning McQueen, Maverick or Happy Gilmore, Rohrig said the world needs more Tow Maters, Gooses, Chubbs and even Dales.

“We need to try to be that person for others,” he said. “Yes, our success matters, but nothing matters more than helping others find success. I remember back in freshman year I had a teacher tell me, ‘a leader is someone who makes more leaders.’ Now you may look at this quote and laugh because of its simplicity, but to me, it stuck. Our lives are about so much more than striving for the best, graduating, and accomplishing our goals, it’s about building up those who surround us.”

Valedictorian Cael Turner finished the speeches with a message to the classes to come.

“Do not get caught up in the stress and the pressure that school and/or others may put upon you. I say that, but Mr. Messerole has stressed me out about getting this speech done in time,” he joked. “I want all of you to take the time to think about your classmates, your friends and the people you have come close to over the years. I want you all the cherish those relationships and memories that have come with them, because those memories will be what you forever have to hold on too. Not the grade you got on a math test on a random Thursday morning. My advice to you all is to have dreams, take risks and never forget who was with you along the way, unless those dreams and risks get you sent to Mr. Messerole’s office, then I’d maybe stop chasing that dream.”

For Turner, high school was truly about the memories he made with his friends along the way.

“I came into high school with one goal in mind, that was to leave Creston High School a better place before this day came. And with the help of each and every member of the class of 2024, I believe we accomplished that goal. I can proudly say that this graduating class left our mark and is leaving this high school a better place than what we walked into four short years ago. With all that being said, I am extremely honored and blessed to be able to represent this historic graduating class, and I can proudly say that there is no better place I can think of spending my last four years than here in Creston and this high school.”

The speakers all agreed on one thing — they will always be Panthers and Creston will always be a place to call home.

Cheyenne Roche

CHEYENNE ROCHE

Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.