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Minooka graduates encouraged to be thankful

MINOOKA – Andrew Geldean had a few false starts on his valedictorian speech during Sunday’s commencement ceremony at Minooka Community High School.

But his false starts using the Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” and President John Kennedy’s “Ask not what you can do” speeches were Geldean’s way of telling his fellow grads that many commencement speakers’ words get forgotten.

All the words have been said already, Geldean said. Instead he told his 626 classmates to thank their parents, teachers or coaches for the help they’ve provided .

“Whatever you do,” he told his classmates, “Thank someone.”

So instead of restating platitudes, Geldean humorously asked the students to be grateful by thanking those that most profoundly helped on the journey to this day.

He wrapped up his speech by posing for a “selfie” in front of the crowd of about 3,500 people.

Minooka’s Class of 2014 graduated 627 members on a day that had temperatures in the 70s, sunshine and light clouds. Parent Carol Stropus, whose daughter, Megan, was graduating said the day “turned out beautiful; just gorgeous.”

Beside Geldean, also honored were three high-achieving classmates: Meghan Watts, Dominic Scarcelli and John Kauffman.

Watts was announced as the class salutatorian. Kauffman was introduced as one of 141 students from around the nation to be named a 2014’s United States Presidential Scholar. He was selected from more than 4,000 candidates on the basis of superior achievements, leadership qualities, personal character, and involvement in community and school activities. He is invited to Washington, D.C., in June to receive his medallion.

Scarcelli was honored as a National Merit Scholarship Recipient. Scarcelli’s top scores in the preliminary SAT test in 2012 put him in the top 1 percent in the nation for academics, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

Nine members of the class who will go into military service also were honored. Making a commitment to the United States Marine Corps are Kevin Hill, Nathan Kijowski, Landon McGinnis, Alexis Sponseller and Matthew Szymel. Anthony Dana and Brandon Hermann committed to the Army. Marqueshuna Esco and Julian McReynolds committed to the Navy.

The crowd “awed” hearing that six students – Caleb Froidcoeur, Bo Hasler, Amber Lukas, Giacomo Rainmondi, Noah Scholp and Josie Smith – who had perfect attendance for all four years of high school.

Before leading the graduates in moving their tassels from one side to the other of their mortarboards, the senior class officers reminded the students of why their class was unique.

“Knowing the perfect bathrooms and drinking fountains,” said Erica Fruscione. “Owning more orange clothing than anyone ever should,” she added.

Another officer, Kaitlyn Daniels, told the crowd, “Never being alone because of all the friends we have … sharing the same excitement and the fear.”

Class President Haley Renison encouraged her classmates to push ahead, “Let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold it back.”

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