Roland-Story High School held commencement on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m. With the girls dressed in red robes and the boys in black, 72 seniors received their diplomas during the graduation exercise. The Class of 2017’s motto was: “Together, we have experienced life. Separately, we will pursue our dreams. Forever, our memories will remain.”

Commencement speakers were Megan Sansgaard and Jade Elliott. Following are the speeches they gave:

People with Passion

By Jade Elliott

When I sat down to write this speech, I wanted to find a way to incorporate everybody. Find the words to say that would relate to all of you. I began to realize that’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard to connect things such as motorcrossing, parkour, cheerleading, photography, rebuilding tractors, and twirling flaming objects into the same category. Then I began to think about how that’s a good thing. We aren’t all meant to be interested in the same things. That’s the cool thing about humans, we use our individual interests and skills to attempt to make our mark on the world.

Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Maybe you have already found your passion. Your passion may be the thrill of playing football on Friday nights or maybe it’s even reading the Harry Potter series, Emily how many times now, 9? Or maybe it’s a care for animals. Whatever this passion is to you, you have acquired it from the life we have lived. We gain our passions from experiences, influential people, and our environment.

What if you haven’t found your passion yet? That’s okay. I know we all like to think we are all grown up, but we aren’t- we are still very young and have a lot of years left in our lives. Finding your passion could be found in the next stage of your life whether that be in college, the military, the mission field or in the work force. You might find it once you have a family of your own.

Regardless of the timeframe, you will know you have found your passion when you find something you enjoy so much that it becomes less about you and more about what you can give back to this world. This is called fulfillment of purpose. T. Alan Armstrong said, “If there’s no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, and BECAUSE of you.”

It’s weird to think we are leaving this building and everything we have ever been familiar with. It’s weird to think we might never hear Kenia’s bubbly and fun laugh echoing down the hallway, or pass by a classroom and see Grant braiding hair. As we leave, it’s important to reflect on the times behind us and remember the memories. Way back to elementary school when we would play American Idol at recess and Calvin would sing songs about toast. To the awkward days of middle school when we went on the fun overnight trip to Springbrook and of course the time we got ketchup taken away from us. To high school- where we all branched into different activities. What is your predominant memory from the last four years? What stories will we still be telling at our 20th reunion? We have spent 13 years together and throughout those years, we have spent time dreaming, contemplating, and getting ready for our passions and purposes. Now it’s time to go out in the world and make a difference, in your life and in others. Now is the time to live the one life that we are given and to do so passionately.

Thank you

It’s Not About Success and Failure

By Megan Sansgaard

We’ve seen a lot of events in this gym — games, grand march, concerts, assemblies and more. Now here we are in our caps and gowns attending our last event as Roland-Story students. We have survived senioritis, eaten too much food at graduation parties, and now you’re sitting here listening to Jade and me give cliche graduation speeches. Basically, this means it’s time for us to grow up. Many of us have made our college or career decisions, but many of us are still questioning our goals. We’re all searching for our passion. Now we have to take steps toward our goals, and that can be scary. Dreams are amazing motivators, but they mean absolutely nothing if we don’t try to reach them. It will be so important for us to demonstrate hard work and positivity as we begin our journeys to achieve our goals. You will succeed, but you will fail. Both of these events will shape you into a stronger person in work ethic and character.

This wouldn’t be a graduation speech without a quote from the infamous Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” This quote may be cheesy, but I believe it’s so relevant for us. Perseverance and a strong work ethic have the ability to lead us to our goals. Our lives are staring at us, and we have to decide what we’re going to do for ourselves. If you’re willing to sacrifice some of your wants and prioritize your dreams, you will set yourself up for success. Your goals really may be reached; however, there is always a chance that you’ll fail, and that’s okay. How you respond to failure is more important than how you respond to success. We all fall short. We’re human after all. Whether it be that two point government quiz you failed or not getting the scholarship you wanted, defeat happens. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it. We can let a crushed dream destroy us, or we can come back and work harder and have an even better attitude. John 1 verse 5 says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” No matter what the circumstances — hard or joyful times — we should always try our absolute best to stay positive. We can let success or failure control us, or we can be truly joyful in all circumstances. We can be lights in this world.

Whether you know exactly what you’re doing or wish someone would just tell you what your goal should be, go for it. How are you going to find out what makes you happy if you don’t try new things and give it your all? Dr. Seuss also wrote, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.” We have been given many of the skills we need to reach our goals throughout our time here at Roland-Story. Say thank you to a teacher, parent, mentor or anyone who helped shape you into the young adult you are today.

So go ahead and fail. I encourage you all to to go and try something, even if you might not succeed. Take an advanced class. Apply for that job, and then ask for a raise. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Take risks. Stay focused and work hard as you begin to pursue your dreams. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” If you reach your goals, keep setting new ones. And if you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and learn from your experiences. Never give up. I know that whether you succeed or fail, you will have the strength to respond with determination. Your life isn’t about the number of successes or failures, it’s about how you choose to respond to them.