Below a circular halo around the sun, 71 seniors from Waterloo High School received their diplomas on the athletic field of the school Sunday afternoon, June 2.

It was a beautiful day as the sun shined on the graduates, their families and friends that filled the grandstand, along with school administrators and staff. The circular halo that formed around the sun was due to ice crystals in the atmosphere.

“I am not sure who was in charge of the weather today,” district Administrator Brian Henning told the audience and graduates. He noted the district had six snow days throughout the school year and was thankful for the nice weather on the district’s 141 commencement exercise.

Ashley Krueger and Bridget Krueger, class representatives, welcomed their classmates and those in attendance to the program and thanked those who made the journey possible.

“I can truly say Waterloo is one of the most welcoming communities there is,” Bridget Krueger said.

She said she was a wide-eyed seventh grade student when she came to the district. “Many will be embarking on a journey similar to that next year, wide-eyed and nervous for college, a new job or training.”

Ashley Krueger said she attended Waterloo schools her whole life and how she greeted every day with a smile. Although there were some days of stress, she recalled smiling at the powder puff football games for homecoming and just being with her classmates. “I hope everyone has a memory they can look back at and smile on.”

Class valedictorian Samantha Battenberg recalled her kindergarten class where students made a book on their classmate’s birthday and filled in what they would buy the birthday student if they went to the store.

Of the 17 students in her class, five students wrote they would get her a puppy and five wrote kittens. Although one student did not spell puppy correctly and one drew a picture of a purple dog, she counted those as well, so seven puppies in all. “I love puppies, but I am not sure I could handle seven in kindergarten.

“There is a saying about when you are young, everything is puppies and kittens. When we came here in 4K or whenever, we did not know what we were doing. We ate glue, I thought I was going to be a mermaid when I grew up. Many thought they would be dinosaurs.”

Battenberg said as children, many did whatever, because they were not scared. “We were fearless and boundless.

“But I was scared to enter high school and scared to graduate,” she told her classmates. “It is okay for us to be scared. Many don’t know what our future holds. The only way we found our way through school was trial and error. Make mistakes confidently like we did when we were young.”

Mistakes will lose their importance the further you go in life as she encouraged the class of 2019 to celebrate the next chapter in their life.

Salutatorian Kegan Skalitzky talked of the lessons she learned over the years, including the information she gleaned at a Future Business Leaders of America leadership conference she attended this past school year. She told her classmates not to compare themselves to others. “You can achieve what you desire in life,” she said.

School board President Bobbi Forman told the students they had done a tremendous amount of work the past 12 years. “This is the last chapter of those 12 years, but you have many unwritten chapters left.”

Taking advice from J.J. Watt’s commencement speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison earlier this year, Forman gave the graduates two lessons. While dreams may not turn out the way one plans, she told the students to keep their dreams in front of themselves.

The second lesson was to remember no one accomplishes their dreams alone. “In the past 12 years you had help,” she said. “Ask parents, siblings, friends and professors or whoever to help you move down that path to your dreams. Best of luck to all of you as you take your steps down the path of your dreams.”

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