Nearly 920 members of the Class of 2014 said "goodbye" to Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy at commencement ceremonies held on Saturday, May 24, at the Rosemont Theatre.
The 913 seniors at the three schools graduated with pomp and circumstance during the ceremonies that were a mixture of congratulations for their efforts and hard work, happiness for graduating, and sadness in leaving friends and high school behind them as they move on to a new chapter in their lives.
Mr. Daniel J. Adams, president of the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 Board of Education, encouraged the graduates to pursue whatever they did in life with passion.
"Whatever you do, pursue it with gusto and passion," he said. "But as you go out into the world, whether it is college or the workforce, remember that life is about personal responsibility. Whatever you put into life is what you get out of it."
Students who spoke at the ceremonies also encouraged their fellow graduates to do great things.
Izaura Ocampo, valedictorian of Proviso West’s graduating class, said that being motivated encouraged her to be the best that she could be.
"I did not set out to be number one in my class; I started out like everyone else, wanting to do my best academically to please my parents," she said. "I learned early on to set goals for myself. It was not always easy to achieve my goals, especially when I saw other people goofing off and enjoying a carefree life, but my motivation was enough to keep me going these last four years."
Jennifer Ramirez, one of the valedictorians at Proviso East, said that they do not have to look far to find heroes.
"I have seen in my years at East that we don’t have to look far for inspiration and that we each have the potential to make an inspiring contribution to others by being true to our values and committing ourselves to goals," she said. "When you leave here today, celebrate what you have accomplished these four years, but look forward with an open mind towards how you too can be an inspiration for others."
Izabelle Mazulla, PMSA’s student council president, said that they are defined by every moment that they live."
"We will receive our diplomas this evening and walk off this stage with our eyes set on a new goal," she said. "We will work hard, learn new things, travel to new places, leaving our mark on the world, achieving our dreams and enjoying every step of the journey. While not every moment is sunshine and rainbows, every moment will define us as our own people and continue to shape us into whom we are."
State Representative Emanuel "Chris" Welch, a former president of the District 209 Board of Education, encouraged students at PMSA’s graduation ceremony to speak up for others.
"Don’t be afraid to speak up for what is right and against what is wrong," he said. "Don’t be afraid to be the voice for other children. Don’t be afraid to fight for our seniors and our elderly. Don’t be afraid to be a catalyst for greatness."