Ismael Coello is announced as valedictorian and wears his high academic achievement medal. (Submitted photo)

By Mike Heine


The 191 Delavan-Darien High School graduates who make up the class of 2017 are “the underdogs,” said D-DHS class speaker and valedictorian Ismael Coello.

He knows what that’s like.

The son of immigrants, he was raised not knowing English at a young age and often without his parents around as they worked long hours to support the family.

“I was not made to be up here,” he said “But look where we are.”

For Coello, and many others, it meant hard work, long nights studying, and countless assignments and exams. But, they’ve made it.

High school lasts about 720 days, from the first September day of freshman year, to graduation day, June 8, 2017.

That’s 311,760 minutes or more than 18.7 million seconds.

And then, in a moment, it’s over.

“After we walk out of those doors, the temporary haze of our high school years will be gone. We will step into adulthood,” Coello Ramirez said.

But each of the 191 graduates put in the work. They’ve earned their diplomas. Many will seek a higher-education degree. Five others will enter the military — Benjamin Ingersoll, serving in the United States Army; Robert Zaratzian, serving in the United States Army National Guard; Gary Taylor, serving in the United States Army Reserve; Dayne Ludlum, serving in the United States Navy; and Jared Zeimentz, serving in the United States Army National Guard. And, some will enter right into the workforce.


There will be challenges along the way, but “it’s not about luck,” Coello Ramirez said. “If I learned something in statistics is that every single moment, every single occasion, is its own occasion. It doesn’t matter if the odds are against you or if other people couldn’t achieve it, because what you do will always be a new occasion independent of all past circumstances and independent of others’ critiques.

“It is everything to do with work. You are meant to be great through the perspiration on your forehead, through the sleepless nights of studying, through any struggle that will ever hold you back.”

Before awarding the diplomas, Principal Jim Karedes, who was presiding over his first graduation – and in an air-conditioned gym for the first time, too – said this year’s group of seniors was a tight-knit bunch.

Together during their high school careers, they’ve performed in Broadway musicals, won state championships in soccer and a state runners-up trophy in softball, and have entertained in many concerts, parades and performances.

“Each class takes on its own personality. This year’s graduating class was one of family,” Karedes said. “These students have stood up for each other throughout the year, supporting each other in their academics, athletics, performances and other extra-curricular events.”

But now, their time together is over.

“The second you walk out those doors, your life begins and you have to ask yourself one question — ‘What do I want out of life?’” said fellow class speaker Jesus Garcia. “It’s a question only you have the answer to.

“Deep down, your greatest desires and dreams lay dormant until you choose to wake them. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said ‘You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.’ Maybe that’s why (graduation) gowns don’t have any pockets. Graduation is a time to uncover your potential and climb that ladder.

“Go out and remember that you are a Comet. You will bring light everywhere you go. Surround yourself with others who do the same, and you’ll be able to see what you couldn’t before. Take pride in knowing that you will be alumni of D-DHS and that you will be joining the group of other alumni who were in your very shoes at one point.

“Always remember your lifelong friends who helped you grow into the person you are today. Treasure your friendships because your friends will be the ones who help you get up when you fall down. Remember where you came from, and stay true to your roots.”

And remember, DDHS graduates. You. Are. Comets.

      Mike Heine is the director of school and community relations for the Delavan-Darien School District.


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment