By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
For the first time since 2019, the Carlinville High School graduation commencement had returned to the normal of being held within the CHS gymnasium.
The 2022 senior class was honored in front of a packed house, which made the last two years of a global pandemic feel like nothing but a distant memory.
After entertaining the crowd with some prelude music, Ryan Pirok and the CHS band sounded the processional fanfare as 2023 marshals Jenna Beck, Madalynn Bloome, Margaret DeLong, Kayla Quarton and Charlie Wilson led the 2022 senior graduates into the gym for the presentation of diplomas as well as awards and scholarships.
Class President Sophia Ruffatto, one of three honor graduates that addressed the crowd, referred to graduation day as ‘one of, if not that most significant event of a student’s life’ as she gave her welcome prior to the awards’ ceremony.
“Therefore, as a member of the class of 2022, I would like to thank everyone who played a part in getting these fine men and women to this graduation today. We owe you everything we have become.”
“We have grown physically and mentally,” Ruffatto said as she reflected on school memories and shared some inspiration for the future. “Now, we are here and ready to walk across this stage to get a slip of paper signifying an ending but also new beginnings. I challenge all of you to leave a mark on this world in your own special way. I believe we all have the power to do it. I encourage you to pursue any and everything you are passionate about. Be amazing and always strive for greatness.”
CHS principal Patrick Drew then presented an award to the top student in each subject plus the individual that displayed the highest level of citizenship within the educational community.
The agriculture award was presented to Dane Rosentreter.
The art award recipient was Jacob Hamel.
This year’s outstanding business computer student was Mason Patton.
The english award went to Jacob Petrovich.
Madeline Campbell was honored with the family and consumer science award.
Ruffatto was the recipient of the foreign language award.
The top industrial technology student was Luke Daugherty.
Eli Ratcliff recieved the mathematics award.
Megan Dunn was recognized as the most outstanding music student.
For excellence in science, Drew recognized Owen Griffiths.
This year’s top social studies student was Aaron Wills.
Ayden Tiburzi was the recipient of the Michael J. Kelly School Citizen award.
Petrovich then came to the podium as the next speaker and pumped up the class with an ecstatic ‘YES!’
“It’s finally here – the day we’ve all been waiting for,” continued Petrovich. “That momentous Sunday event at CHS when we cross over from being young souls with dreams and aspirations, barely envisioning the future, to adults with limitless potential.”
Petrovich then took the class on a journey back in time, briefly recapping what the past four years of high school were like.
“When we came in here as freshmen, we weren’t even considering this occasion,” Petrovich said. “Back then, we weren’t expected to be the people we have become. Sophomore year brought new classes, new experiences, new opportunities, new people and the assemblage of excitement without the freshman frustrations. Our incredible Class of 2022 thrived and prospered, excelling in classes and sports and just figuring out who we were in whatever we did.”
While the pandemic wasn’t the focus of Petrovich’s speech, he said it was still worth mentioning in terms of sculpting the class’s legacy.
“People divided, opportunities halted, things seemed insurmountable and perspectives on the future shifted,” Petrovich said. “High school ended like nothing we had ever seen. Junior year began and we were never entirely sure what was going to happen. The unpredictability of life was increased exponentially. One moment we’re sitting in class and the next moment we’re forced to do all of that from behind a computer screen. For many, the dreams and hopes that once burned bright seemed to drain and yet the Class of 2022 stayed strong. Looking back to that year, no matter what the obstacle, it was just another lesson at CHS.”
Petrovich then made a bold statement in saying “Our lessons have shaped us into what [I’m sure you’ll agree] is the most remarkable class this high school has and will ever see. The Class of 2022 is a story – a story of how, through any and everything, we persisted in being our best no matter the struggle. It is a story of real people – a story of a future generation that will shift the world to be a better one. It is the story of us.”
“Life is not easy but it is a good story and it can be one hell of a ride,” Petrovich said as he returned to present day. “As our paths part, our lives and new stories will be spectacular. Be grateful for the limitless possibilities in front of us. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. We are and will always be Carlinville. We are and will always be the Class of 2022.”
Superintendent Becky Schuchman then presented special awards and scholarships to Catie Sims (Boente Family Award), Grace Wilton (Carlinville Education Association Award), Griffiths (Chalma Beth Smith Scholarship), Wills (The Future Professional Award), Tiburzi (Dr. R.E.W. Leasman Award), Carson Wiser (Mathias Scholarship), Briana Sanchez (Prairie Farms Scholarship) and Claire Behme (Violet Nolte Crook/Vicki Dechman Memorial.
Prior to the presentation of the diplomas, Community Unit School District No. 1 vice president Dan Kallal addressed the graduates.
“Hopefully, we as a district, have provided you with a foundation of skills that will help you be successful in your future plans,” Kallal said. “Congratulations. I know you will make this school and community proud.”
Kallal also took time to thank the district’s staff members, parents and the general public, on behalf of the school board.
“From the bus drivers who start the day at 6 a.m. to the custodian cleaning the hallways in the evenings plus all of the other supporting members, I know we have dealt with a lot of challenges these last couple of years and you’ve done a superb job in helping us meet those challenges,” Kallal said. “Parents and general public, your attendance today indicates a crucial involvement in the educational process of these students. I appreciate your time.”
With their diplomas in hand, the graduates settled back into their seats to hear closing thoughts from National Honor Society President Ratcliff.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned here, it’s that things do not last,” Ratcliff said. “Sometimes we need to take time and slow down a little bit. These four years went by faster than I ever thought they would and the years coming up are going to go by even faster. I really encourage you to try and appreciate the good experiences from here, because they might be the best you have. I wish you all the best in whatever you do.”
Look for our CHS Graduation section with a complete list of graduates in next week’s Macoupin County Enquirer~Democrat.