Nearly 250 graduating seniors said goodbye to Monona Grove High School on Sunday afternoon.

Amid the sea of faces – some smiling and laughing, others serious – were students recalling their four years at MG and adults offering plenty of advice for the graduates.

Social studies teacher Peter Keys thanked the class for making his job the best and the worst of all jobs. It was the best because he witnessed the growth and maturity of the students, but it was the worst because he had to say goodbye after four years of being with them.

Keys told students to be kind.

“Kindness is a choice you’ll be able to make every single day,” he said.

Keys told students to be vulnerable sometimes.

“When you figure out who you are and what you like and who you love, you’re going to get hurt,” he said. “But sometimes that hurt is worth it when you can experience being truly you.”

Keys told students embrace the gray of not always having the answer, especially if it means stereotyping others.

“Embrace the idea of simply not knowing,” he said.

He encouraged the seniors to remember the past but to live in the present.

Michael Johnson, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County, provided the commencement address.

“Celebrate in all that you have achieved,” he said. “Today is not the end of your education but the beginning of your journey.”

Johnson encouraged the students to never stop dreaming but also cautioned them that dreams need action to become reality.

“Those dreams will not be fulfilled unless you take an action,” he said. “Continue to train for it, work for it and learn for it. Your education cannot stop here, because your education should become your lifelong incentives.”

Johnson closed with advice for students to take with them in their college lives and careers.

– Be passionate.

– Find a mentor or coach.

– Be visible and valuable.

– Be honest.

– Lend a helping hand to those in need.

– Develop expertise and credentials.

– Be gracious.

– Be inclusive.

– Seek understanding instead of being understood.

– Put your family first.

Diplomas were presented to the students by MG Superintendent Dan Olson and members of the Monona Grove School Board.

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