Shaleen Thiengmany will remember her class as being known as “just a group of good kids.”
The Mt. Pleasant Community High School Class of 2019 valedictorian congratulated her fellow classmates and thanked the family, friends and teachers who have encouraged, supported and challenged them to do their best in her commencement address on Sunday, May 19.
“Whether lifelong friends or strangers, we’re all here. We finally made it,” Thiengmany said.
Thiengmany said that no matter where the students spent their time, whether they made the music room or the football field home for the past four years, the Class of 2019 always managed to rise to the occasion.
“This will always be the place we can come home to,” Thiengmany said. “Thank you for all you have taught me and inspired me to be.”
Aaron Bodenham, Class of 2019 salutatorian, said it’s crazy how quickly time goes by.
“It seems like just the other day we were in elementary school together,” Bodenham said.
Between academics, athletics, other extra curricular activities and part-time jobs, Bodenham said it was often a struggle to find time for social activities. “This is never going to change as each student heads off to college to further their education, join the workforce or enlist in the armed forces,” he said.
Bodenham said that many students may have been told that high school was the best time of their lives; however, that’s not the case.
“Be happy high school is over. Don’t forget there’s more opportunity for each and every one of us as soon as we step across this stage,” Bodenham said, adding that it’s the students who have enlisted in the armed forces who allow everyone else to pursue whatever they want to do after graduation.
“As we transition into this new chapter of our lives, it’s important to remember to keep pushing,” Bodenham said. “There’s so many new things to try, new places to go and new jobs to do.”
Bodenham encouraged his classmates not to let high school be the high point of their lives. While it was fun, it is time for every graduate to move on and be successful, he said.
John Henriksen, superintendent, left graduates with two points of advice: travel their own path and be an underachiever in terms of the world’s standards.
Henriksen said that whoever the students choose to follow after graduation, whether an individual or organization, to not make the decision lightly.
Henriksen told the students to ask themselves if the person, group or organization knows where they are going; if they hold the same morals and values as the student and lets those morals and values guide their decisions; and what the history of the group or organization is and if it’s something they can be proud of.
Finally, when all else fails, Henriksen told the graduates to ask themselves, “What will my parents think?”
“Asking yourself that question can be a wonderful guiding light for you for the rest of your life,” Henriksen said. “Whether it’s casting a vote or deciding what Greek house to pledge to ... make sure you choose wisely.”
Henriksen also advised graduates to be underachievers. The world will never give praise or accolades for being a good spouse or spending time with children or other family members, he said.
“If all you ever accomplish in life is to be a faithful spouse and serve your family faithfully, by the world’s standards you will be an underachiever, but it will be the most important work you would have ever done,” Henriksen said.
“If you work tirelessly to attain the next step on the career ladder or other degrees, but it costs you your family, will it have been worth it?” Henriksen continued. “In terms of the world’s standards, be an underachiever and concentrate on the things the world won’t give you recognition for. It’s those relationships that make life so wonderful.”