Memories for a lifetime: New London Class of 2018 looks toward blossoming future

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Before the New London High School class of 2018 received their diplomas Sunday, the commencement address speaker counseled them to give their future time to blossom.

Commencement in the New London High School gymnasium Sunday, May 20 began with the 42 graduating seniors passing out white roses tipped in gold to parents, grandparents, teachers and other loved ones who guided them toward success.

Between the recognition of academic achievements and the presentation of diplomas, commencement speaker Joel Prottsman laughingly relayed 10 similarities between his graduating class of 1990 and the graduating class today, concluding with some words of advice.

Prottsman, who was introduced by Superintendent Chad Wahls as a ?lifelong Tiger,? named some similarities between his Generation X generation and the graduating Generation Z social media generation, one of which is the way they both rule the world of emojis.

?We had emojis too,? Prottsman said before breaking out his phone and playing the song ?Don?t Worry, Be Happy? over the microphone. This was the original smiley face on every T-shirt in America, he explained with a laugh.

The cheeky similarities continued from there: texting vs. letters; Google vs. the Encyclopaedia Britannica; and the sophisticated hairstyles of today vs. the mullet of the 90s.

In the midst of the comedic speech, Prottsman hit the graduating seniors with advice to carry them through the rest of their lives. Although Prottsman?s similarities were far-fetched, his guiding premise wasn?t: the driving difference between him and the graduating seniors is the measure of time.

Prottsman warned that growing up in the social media and internet generation has taught the graduating generation instant gratification and instant results. Careers and relationships, however, take time to develop and mature.

?Set priorities for your life moving forward,? Prottsman said, giving his top four priorities as an example.

Prottsman began by saying his faith in God is the number one most important thing in his life. Following that is family. ?Without the first two, everything else won?t complete you,? he said.

Prottsman?s third priority is his career. After that, it?s everything else.

?These are the things above all else, no matter what happens you stick by these priorities,? Prottsman said.

His second piece of advice for the students was to disconnect from technology and look up. ?Put the technology aside and see what?s in front of you,? Prottsman said. ?Let your hearts and minds guide you, not your thumbs.?

Other speakers were the valedictorian Hayley Krieger and the salutatorian Ashley Birdsell, who both bragged that they believe the New London Class of 2018 was the best to walk the halls of the high school.

?Our class represents all that true New London Tigers should be,? Krieger said. ?We?re dedicated, kind, respectful and passionate. We know how to have fun, but we also work hard to achieve our goals. We have left our mark and the graduating classes to come have shoes to fill.?

Krieger encouraged her fellow classmates to never be afraid to follow their dreams, beat the odds and ?let the sun shine.?

The valedictorian took a moment to thank all the families for encouraging and supporting the students unconditionally. She also took a moment to thank the teachers for their dedication and selflessness.

?Your efforts are sometimes overlooked, and I would like to thank you for the countless hours you spend grading our homework, planning our lessons and doing your best to make sure we reach our full potential in and out of the classroom,? Krieger said, even lovingly calling out some teachers for going ?overboard.?

?We made it. Through the good times and the bad,? Krieger said. ?After counting down to the day, we never thought would come here we are. Graduating and starting a new chapter in our lives.

?Being a Tiger has given me memories I will never forget,? she said.