SOUTH BELOIT: South Beloit School District Superintendent Scott Fisher told the 2021 South Beloit High School class last year was definitely a challenge, but during Saturday’s graduation ceremony, everything seemed to be going well .
“She did not give up. You flourished, ”Fisher told the graduates.
In fact, Fisher’s own son, Ben, was one of the graduates who came all year challenging the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fisher noted that 91% of the class in 2021 graduated on time, which was the second highest percentage of any class in South Beloit High School history. He also noted that in the 2021 class there was the highest number of cum laud graduates in high school history.
On a darker note, Fisher said an empty chair was placed between college seats this year in honor of math teacher Jessica Simplot who died in March. A moment of silence was observed in his honor.
Jillian Reich Mazeika was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony and told the graduates not to let life’s obstacles deter them and to recognize opportunities when they present themselves.
“The hardest part of opportunities is recognizing them when they’re in front of you,” he told the graduate class.
He now operates the Reich Chiropractic Clinic, which was operated on for years by his father, Bradley Reich. He recalled that he was still a student at the chiropractic school when he received the news that his father had been taken to the hospital where he later died. He said his dream of working with his father at the South Beloit clinic ended with the death of his father, but he knew that obstacles pass through life and can be overcome.
He also said graduates should not be ashamed to grow up in a small town.
“Just because you come from a small town doesn’t mean you can’t make a name for yourself,” he said.
At the end of his speech, he asked all graduates to come under their chairs. All graduates received a card that said “keep smiling.” He said his father often told him this while facing challenges in his life. He said it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile, so why work so hard to be unhappy?
Class greeter Erin Graminske said she and her classmates had reached a key transition point with their graduation. He said that learning is the foundation of self-improvement and that everyone should thank their teachers and parents for reaching graduation day.
He thanked the teachers for being helpful and patient.
“They interacted with the students on a personal level,” he said.
They have done everything possible to prepare her and the class to take the next steps in her life, she said.