Future and past meet at graduations

GRADUATION IS A TIME of looking forward with anticipation. Graduation can also be a time of looking back with gratitude, appreciation and recognition.

At both Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah and Plymouth high schools, the graduation ceremony this past Sunday included a large amount of both.

For the graduating seniors, it was certainly a time of great joy and anticipation, as they look ahead to the next stage of their life, whether that be two- or four-year college, the military, a place in the workforce or more.

But the past was a big part of both commencement exercises, a past that provides direction and guidelines for the graduating seniors.

The Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School Class of 2018 members who received their diplomas Sunday were the 100th graduating class at the school to do so, a milestone that was marked in many different ways.

Members of past graduating classes, going all the way back to the 1930s and 1940s up through the present day, were featured guests. Alumna Kate Kuehl-Burgess, Class of 1987, was the featured speaker. The program featured musical selections from across the decades from the high school band and chorus. Memorabilia and items from the school’s history and previous graduating classes were featured prominently throughout the school.

It all served as a strong and poignant reminder that the ELGHS Class of 2018 is just the latest in a long line of graduates who have benefited from the strong education offered right in their hometown and the support of a loving, caring community as they head off to their future.

At Plymouth High School, the commencement exercises included the announcement of the two newest members of the Alumni Hall of Fame – Ralph Stayer of the Class of 1961 and Allen Nohl of the Class of 1968.

They are two graduates who took widely different paths following high school – Stayer went into the family business, Johnsonville Sausage, while Nohl joined the U.S. Army and soon found himself deep in the conflict in Vietnam.

Both, however, made and continue to make deep and lasting contributions to their home community decades after they left PHS.

Stayer helped build Johnsonville into the leading sausage brand in America and a model of a well-run, employee-friendly and appreciative business. Nohl – who worked many years at Johnsonville – has spent countless hours and energy helping his fellow veterans to cope and prosper, ensuring that their service and sacrifice is never forgotten – not just in the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial that he played an instrumental part in bringing to life, but in each and every veteran’s everyday life.

In another half a century, or less, there will be members of the Class of 2018 who will have left a similar mark, and made similar impacts, on their hometown and the world around them as these two newest members of the Alumni Wall of Fame.

And when they do, it will be due in large part to the path laid before them by previous graduates of Plymouth High School and the strong foundation for life they built in the Plymouth School District.

So while the graduates of 2018 are looking forward to a bright future full of promise, they do so having been reminded at their graduations of the shoulders of those past graduates they stand on and the path they blazed for them to follow.


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