Walder, Joanna.jpg


Good Afternoon! [ want to thank everyone who is watching the Class of 2020’s

Commencement ceremony. Even though you can’t be here today, be assured that we feel your

thoughts and prayers! [ would like to express my sincere thanks to all who made this day

possible for the Hoopeston Area Class of 2020. Thank you to Mr. Walsh and the media crew for putting in all the extra work required by a virtual ceremony. Thank you to Mr. Klaber, Mrs. Hutzel, and all of the dedicated staff at HAHS for making remote-learning as effective and seamless as possible. It’s been an experience that none of us will soon forget!

I can confidently say that each of us dcals with stress in unique ways. Personally, I enjoy messing around in the kitchen and trying new recipes even if 1 forget to double half the ingredients in the pudding cookies. A couple weeks ago, I ran across a recipe in a long-forgotten cookbook, and I felt that it would shape my message nicely.


1 c. friendly words

2 heaping c. understanding

4 heaping tsp. time and patience

Pinch of warm personality

Dash of humor

Measure words carefully; add heaping cups of understanding. Use generous amounts of time and patience.

Keep temperature [ow; do not boil. Add dash of humor and a pinch of personality. Season to taste with the spice of life.

Serve in individual molds.

We are individuals and unique in our own way. Our Creator didn’t just copy and paste each of us into existence. We have been given separate personalities, along with talents and skills. Class of 2020, we’re at a crossroads whether we want to admit it or not. The future is uncertain, perhaps even more than usual right now. Sometimes it seems like our world is falling apart. Social media and the news outlets report nothing but negativity. World leaders, whom we are supposed to be able to look up to, break each other down with harsh words. Throughout the 13 short years of our school career, we’ve seen several deadly hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and wildfires, the Ebola and Zika epidemics, the Coronavirus pandemic, the decisive election and impeachment of President Trump, terrorism and the subsequent War on Terror, more school shootings than we

care to admit, and the increase of the National Debt by more than $14 trillion in a country whose morals are crumbling, we have the opportunity to hold fast to the right. Let’s follow the recipe for Happiness, taking time to listen and striving to truly understand where others are coming from. Let’s be patient with each other and persevere so that we are leaders who tomorrow’s teenagers can rightfully esteem.

As I was thinking about this speech, it occurred to me that I’ve taken many people along our journey through the first 18 years of our lives for granted. As students, we don’t realize the sacrifices of time and energy that our teachers freely gave us through the last 13 years.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank a few of my teachers for their investment in our lives. Mrs. Konieczki, you taught us that working out our problems “as friends” and drawing little smiley faces in our notes made math much easier. Mr. Stipp, you weren’t afraid to speak the truth to a bunch of teenagers who weren’t always the most appreciative. Miss Mulcahey, you taught us that caramel-apple suckers make any problem manageable! Mrs. Brackmann, your classroom was our home away from home and you nurtured us as if we were your own children. Mr. Root, you were right. Even though we doubted it at Freshman Orientation, we did branch out and make new friends. Each of us have different memories of our school years, and I know that I haven ‘t come close to having every teacher at Hoopeston Area High School. We thank each of you for your dedication to our education and for your support and guidance along the way.

To my classmates, thank you for sticking together through the ups and downs of school. We may not be Hoopeston’s biggest graduating class, but those of us who made it here this afternoon are the survivors. Together, we’ve survived running the mile and taking the SAT. We’ve gotten through finals, seemingly endless rounds of STAR testing, the Quadratic formula, the Pacer test, and Shakespeare. We’ve made some great memories, and some not-so-great ones, all of which we will someday tell our grandchildren about. However, we also have a big responsibility for future generations. We are leaving behind a legacy and it is our job to make it one that will inspire others to follow in our footsteps.

Class of 2020, I challenge you to think of all that our parents have done for us. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for their hard work and dedication. I would like to do some basic calculations to estimate just how important our parents’ role in our lives has been. 18 years X 365 days a year X 3 meals a day = 19,710 meals so far. 18 years X 52 weeks a year X 4 to 5 loads of laundry twice a week = 9,360 loads of laundry to date. 18 years X a Walmart trip every two weeks X $250 in groceries = $ll 7,000 spent on groceries alone. 18 years X 52 weeks a year X seven days per week X an average of 30 minutes per day = 196,560 minutes (3,276 hours) spent driving us to school, extracurricular activities, church, etc. 13 school years X l80 school days a year X 15 — 30 minutes a night = 70,200 minutes (1,170 hours) spent helping us with homework and studying. Our parents run a free hotel, free restaurant, free taxi, free laundromat, and free tutoring service, not to mention all the love and prayer that it took to raise us. No number can measure all that you’ve done for us. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all the time, energy, money, work, and stress that you’ve invested in our lives.

I also thank God that we’ve gotten to this fork in the road. While the unknown aspect of the future can seem intimidating at times, we have a friend who is all-knowing. Psalm 128 says “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” Class of 2020, let’s trust God to guide us through life. There’s only so much we can control. After all, you can whip up a batter to the T, but if you don’t trust the oven to bake correctly, it’s of no avail. He will bake the recipe of Happiness to perfection, leaving nothing out, adding only that which is needful.

Thank you.