Owen-Withee Class of 2024 receive their diplomas

Commencement Program held May 18

By Nicole Rogers
Posted 5/22/24

Twenty-two seniors marched majestically into the Owen-Withee Gymnasium as the Owen-Withee High School band played “Fanfare and Processional.”

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Owen-Withee Class of 2024 receive their diplomas

Commencement Program held May 18


The Owen-Withee High School Commencement ceremony was held at 10 a.m. on May 18, 2024. Twenty-two seniors marched majestically into the Owen-Withee Gymnasium as the Owen-Withee High School band played “Fanfare and Processional.” High School Principal Nate Johnson then welcomed all to the graduation ceremony and spoke to the graduating class.

“Now that you are at the end of your high school experience, know that you may be experiencing a wide range of emotions, you may feel happiness for reaching your goals and the exciting adventure that is to come,” Johnson began. “You may also feel sadness for moving on and saying goodbye now to those that have helped and supported you along the way on your journey here at Owen-Withee High School. But do not forget that now is a time for celebration, it is a time to enjoy the moment and reflect on everything you have accomplished. My hope is that, as today's graduating class, you'll consider this success is only the first step to achieving greater success in your future. I hope also that you will utilize this time to thank those who have helped you reach this milestone, in a very real sense your success is also their success. So, to everyone, let us celebrate this occasion with great joy and gratitude.”

Johnson then introduced Class President Reina Arndt who addressed the class and all in attendance. She asked all gathered to pause and reflect on the past 14 years and she reflected on the first time she climbed the steps of the school bus and walked into the elementary school and how graduation seemed so far anyway yet here they were. She reminisced about the challenging COVID years, how it changed the class dynamics and how her class is surrounded by a wonderful community. She left the podium quoting from a song by Natasha Bedingfield, “Live your life with arms wide open. Today is where the book begins. The rest is still unwritten. So go out and write your next chapter of your book and make it all you dreamed it could be.”

As Reina took her spot on the risers, Salutatorian Daisy Stock walked forward to speak. “I would first like to start by saying thank you,” said Daisy. “Thank you to every single teacher that has helped each and every one of us get to where we are today, to every single relative or friend who has been there for every single one of us. But most importantly, I would like to personally thank my mom and my sister, for always being there for me, and pushing me to be the best that I can and would not have made it this far without you and your support. And I can honestly go on and on with people who I have to thank you for getting us to where we are today.” Daisy talked about competition and how they competed in one way or the other all their years of school and with that some pointless arguments sprang up along the way, but they all ended up here today awaiting the next stage of their lives. Competition will continue but in different ways she pointed out… they may compete for jobs, the perfect family, money for the newest products etc. In the end, Daisy encouraged all to take time to enjoy life, take it one day at time, and “Don’t dwell on the past because it’s gone and don’t be troubled by the future as it has not yet come.”

As Daisy’s words settled in upon the audience, the choir members gathered to sing “I’ll Always Remember You” by Miley Cyrus under the direction of O-W Choir Director Tammy Barth. Following the poignant choral selection, Paris Ackerman gave her Salutatorian Address. “Life is a beautiful mystery,” Paris began. “You can be having the best day ever, and then one thing could ruin it. Or you could be having the worst day ever and one small thing can make it 10 times better. You're never sure what you will get. Over the past 14 years, our classes had to face a lot of conflict, especially during the time COVID hit. Now I'm not going to bore you with the same old quarantine story however, it did put a dent in our class. When we came back here, we were different people, we had to learn how to rekindle friendships from before and some of them never returned. It was a challenge, but we managed to reunite for the most part.” Paris said her class rallied over the years and has many successes especially in sports and FBLA but also other areas. She concluded with some parental wisdom, “Let's push forward and make all of our dreams a reality and remember as my dad has always said, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’”

As the band played the last note of “Romanesque” by James Sweringen and band seniors returned to their seats, Superintendent Scott Winch and School Board President Julie Wendler presented the Doonan Award. This year’s recipient was Al Guthman. He was recognized for his stellar achievement during his 42 seasons of coaching basketball including 710 wins, eight trips to state and bringing home four silver balls. His wife Dee Guthman was present to accept the prestigious award on his behalf.

As the ceremony came, in some cases, to a tearful ending, Superintendent Winch presented the diplomas and decreed the class of 2024 officially graduated. Band Director Ryan Gutsch struck up the band once more to play “Fanfare and Recessional” as the newly graduated happily retreated to their waiting friends and family.