Off to ‘rock this world’
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Fredericksburg High School Valedictorian Molly Pluenneke ended her speech on Friday night urging her classmates to “rock this world.”
Pluenneke has been going on mission trips with her church since the age of five, and she shared what she has learned from her travels and interactions with people she has meet in distant places.
“Because of my trip to Uganda, I rejoice in the knowledge that we are all capable of making a difference, however small,” she said.
“May we never forget to prioritize the things that matter, say ‘yes’ to a little adventure, learning from those who are different than us with open minds and compassionate hearts, realize our potential to make an impact in any situation, serve others and spread kindness always,” Pluenneke said.
Held in the FHS Stadium, graduation ceremonies on Friday night opened with the playing of the class song, “I Lived” by One Republic.
The 221 graduates marched in to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the FHS Band under the direction of Jason Younts.
The FHS NJROTC presented the colors and the FHS Varsity Choir and senior choir members, directed by senior Landon Priess, led the singing of the national anthem.
Jacob Reynolds, Student Council president, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge.
FHS Principal Joe Gonzalez offered the welcome and introduced the guests.
Senior class president Levi Wilkins offered a moment of reflection.
“We must remember and we all know there is always a way to go the extra step, the extra rep, the extra mile,” he said.
“Taking a step back, reflecting upon our efforts toward a better and newer world is truly the importance of why you are here,” he said.
He questioned his classmates, “What will you do with that extra minute, that friend in need? What will you do with the extra hand which can help those who are less fortunate than us?”
“We are the flicker of light in the brightness of history. What we choose to do with that light will truly brighten the tunnel we call life,” Wilkins said.
In his salutatory address, Cooper McDonald talked about finding oneself.
“Like an arrow, everything that has pulled you back thus far has only been preparing to launch you forward,” McDonald said.
Using a Connect-the-Dots metaphor, McDonald challenged his classmates to consider what lines will be drawn from those dots.
“Live each day with the intention of giving yourself the best future possible, because in the end, you are the only captain of your journey, you are the only one drawing those lines,” he said.
(Full texts of both speeches by Pluenneke and McDonald can be found elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper.)
Following the speeches by the top two graduates, the FHS Varsity Choir, under the direction of Michele Stehling, sang “Alleluia” by Larry Gatlin.
In recommending the students for graduation, Gonzalez noted that of the 221 students, 68 percent were enrolled in higher education and 10 percent will be serving in the armed forces.
Also to date, the entire class has earned $1.1 million in scholarships.
Dr. Jeff Brasher, superintendent of the Fredericksburg Independent School District, certified the graduates and diplomas were presented by the FISD Board of Trustees.
Betsy Setterbo announced the graduates.
After the graduates received their diplomas, Reynolds led them in turning their tassels.
The program concluded with the “Alma Mater” played by the FHS Band.
(Listings of the Top 10 percent, National Honor Society and more were printed in the special graduation section that was included in last week’s newspaper. Additional copies of the section are available at the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post office at 712 West Main Street.)