Commencement Recap: Crestwood Class of 2018


CRESCO - Howard-Winneshiek Community School District is pleased to announce that 94 seniors from the Crestwood High School Class of 2018 received their diplomas at the 57th Annual Commencement on Sunday, May 20. The day was bittersweet for many attendees, including graduating seniors, their parents, extended families, and friends, as the graduates gathered in the gymnasium to sit together as classmates one last time.
Each student who received their diploma has met the standards set forth by the Iowa Department of Education and they have met the requirements for graduation set forth by the Board of Education at Howard-Winn.
Class Stats: Forty-four members of the Crestwood Class of 2018 attained a 3-point cumulative grade point average or above as of the conclusion of the first semester of their senior year. Of those students, 28 attained a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above at the conclusion of their senior year and were recognized for their achievement by wearing Gold Cords at Commencement.
• Gold Cord Recipients (3.5 GPA+): Samantha Bigalk, Brynn Bodermann, Abbigail Burke, Allison Burke, Madison Caffrey, Ashley Fencl, Megan Ferrie, Ellie Friesen, Emily Friesen, Alexis Gosnell, Judd Grover, Justin Holt, Amanda Johnson, Cassidy Kennon, Kayla Lentz, Allison Martinek, Torie McConnell, Madison McKenna, Clayton Ollendieck, Taylar Pecinovsky, Shannon Pisney, Monica Regan, Kennedy Rose, Devyn Schnur, Madison Steffen, Karissa Stika, Dayton Swatek, and Catherine Toale.
• 3-point GPA+:Laci Albert, Jacey Bina, Mackenzie Dietz, Autumn Forcelle, Audrey Grinhaug, Jared Haskin, Taylor Haskovec, Sonya Hurst, Emma Mannery, Reece Meinecke, Autumn Nelson, Avery Powers, Katrina Sanders, Ryan Steffen, Kaylee Thomas, and Tia White.
• National Honor Society (NHS): Samantha Bigalk, Brynn Bodermann, Abbigail Burke, Allison Burke, Ashley Fencl, Megan Ferrie, Ellie Friesen, Emily Friesen, Alexis Gosnell, Judd Grover, Justin Holt, Amanda Johnson, Cassidy Kennon, Kayla Lentz, Emma Mannery, Allison Martinek, Torie McConnell, Madison McKenna, Clayton Ollendieck, Taylar Pecinovsky, Shannon Pisney, Madison Steffen, Karissa Stika, Dayton Swatek, and Catherine Toale.
• Silver Cord Program (Volunteerism): Samantha Bigalk, Brynn Bodermann, Ashley Fencl, Judd Grover, Maia Harvey, Sonya Hurst, Amanda Johnson, Cassidy Kennon, Emma Mannery, Torie McConnell, Madison McKenna, Clayton Ollendieck, Karissa Stika, Catherine Toale, and Samantha Weigert.
• Early Graduates: Robert Combs, Shania Ellison, Benjamen Hron, Mercadez Keller, Morgan Larson, Bailie Magic, Autumn Nelson, Dallas Nolan, and Timothy Pecinovsky.
• Every graduating student at Crestwood who applied for a Dollars for Scholars (DFS)scholarship and accepted it has received one. Thanks to DFS and the community’s generous support and involvement, more than $200,000 in DFS scholarships, alone, were awarded this year to students who plan to continue their studies beyond high school. An estimated $30,000-to-$40,000 in additional scholarships have also been awarded to graduating seniors from a variety of other area endowments, memorials, clubs, businesses, and individuals.
Celebrating Academic Achievement: Prior to watching graduates make their way, single file, across the Commencement stage to shake the hands of each of the five members of the Board of Education, the Board Secretary, their Principal, and their Superintendent, some were anxiously anticipating the official announcement of who would be named the Crestwood Class of 2018’s Valedictorian and Salutatorian.
The Valedictorian shall be the student who has obtained the highest grade point average, and the Salutatorian shall be the student who has obtained the second highest grade point average. Each student is traditionally awarded a medallion at Commencement. 
First, the Salutatorian was announced: Shannon Pisney. Then, the Valedictorian: Ellie Friesen.
• Ellie Friesen, daughter of Myron and Lisa Friesen, is the recipient of the $750 Bouska Valedictory Scholarship. This scholarship was established for the Crestwood Class Valedictorian by Tom and Helen Bouska. The Bouskas valued a commitment to learning and hoped that this would help make college more achievable for someone who had demonstrated such dedication.
After Commencement on Sunday, the Valedictorian stated that she was unsure as to whether or not she had accomplished the feat until she heard her name being called at the ceremony. “I think Shannon and I kind of knew we were at the top of our class,” she said, “but I think just hearing, first, that Shannon had [achieved Salutatorian] and then to be called after that felt special to achieve, academically.”
Friesen says school has always been somewhat easy for her, although she did feel more challenged when she arrived at Crestwood High School and started taking college courses and competing in extracurricular activities. “I had to figure out how to balance school and athletics as well as other things,” she said. “Once I figured that out, though, things became simpler.”
Friesen notes that balancing school with activities is about learning time management skills and having a good work ethic.
“When there’s time in class to get your work done, get it done, because after school you’re probably going to be busy with practices,” she said, adding, “You need to start as a freshman. Don’t let yourself slack off on that, but also do take challenging classes as well as classes that interest you. You don’t need to achieve Valedictorian as long as you value your time and feel like you got something out of it. I think that’s worth more.”
At Crestwood, Friesen was involved in Cross Country, Track, Basketball, Food & Fitness, she was a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Leader, and she was inducted into NHS. Her plans are to attend South Dakota State University to further her education and Cross Country/Track career.
• Meanwhile, Shannon Pisney, daughter of Joe and Luann Pisney, says she is surprised and honored to be named this year’s Salutatorian, explaining that she knows the people who are in her class are “super smart!”
Pisney also participated in extracurriculars. “I was involved in Basketball, Softball, and Volleyball,” she said, adding that she kept herself busy and took college courses her senior year in order to get them done prior to graduating from high school.
Like Friesen, Pisney says balancing academics with activities can, at times, be difficult and she agrees that there is no time to “slack off.”
“I tried to get all of my homework done as soon as possible,” she said. “Then I didn’t have to worry about it later when I had sporting events. I’d usually do my work while riding the bus or when I had study hall.”
Pisney says graduating from high school does indeed feel bittersweet. “It probably won’t really hit me until I get to college,” she said. “A lot of people say they don’t like high school, but I loved high school. I made a lot of friends and I had good relationships with all of my teachers. I’m definitely going to miss it.”
During her high school career, Pisney also participated in HEROES, NEIC Leadership, Food & Fitness, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and she was inducted into NHS. Her plans are to attend Grand View University where she will continue playing basketball while majoring in Pre-medicine and minoring in Health Sciences. She hopes to become an Orthopedic Surgeon.
Commencement Addresses: Three members of the senior class spoke at the ceremony on Sunday, including Amanda Johnson, Emma Mannery, and Karissa Stika. Each student shared a different perspective of their educational experiences. What follows are excerpts from their speeches.
• Amanda Johnson, daughter of Patrick and Sue Johnson, was first at the podium. At Crestwood, she participated in Band, Jazz Band, Choir, Speech, was a Respect Retreat Leader, and was inducted into NHS. Her plans are to attend Wartburg College to major in Musical Therapy.
During her speech, Johnson noted that the last 12 years have, sometimes, seemed trying for some, and while graduation is an appropriate time for “goodbyes” to fellow classmates and long-time friends she encourages them to say their “hellos” to their bright futures ahead.
“Graduation makes people think about what their plans are for the future,” she said. “Most of us probably have it planned, but some don’t. Think about it. What choices would you have made if you could do it differently?”
Johnson continued, “Everyone says that what happens in school will define you. This isn’t always true, because there’s a lot more that makes you who you are. School doesn’t define you. Your choices do.”
Some students, for example, will choose to continue onto college while others will not. “Now is the time to go out into the world and make mistakes again and again. It is our time to learn on our own, without our parents telling us what decisions to make. This is our time to make a difference in the world and in our lives,” Johnson said. “We will all look back on our lives and always be thankful for what we learned here. Our lives are our choice. We can choose what we want to be.”
• Emma Mannery, daughter of Robin Schluter, was next to speak. She participated in 4-H, Team Howard County, HEROES, Volleyball, was a Wrestling Manager, Respect Retreat Leader, and NHS inductee. She was also a member of the Homecoming Court and the Mighty Howard County Fair Princess. Her plans are to attend Iowa State University to major in Veterinary Science and minor in Equine Chiropractics.
Mannery stated that senior year served as the beginning of many landmarks to come. “High school graduation,” she added, “is the beginning of the next step when we all will become our own person and start our dream paths to the future.”
Mannery encouraged her classmates to take a moment to thank all of the people who were there for them each day and made graduating from high school easier.
“There is so much potential in this class to go so far in the world,” she said. “In a couple of years you could be watching the Summer Olympics and see your fellow classmate Ellie Friesen run. Or switch the channel and see your old classmate Judd Grover roping some cows in the NFR. And tune in at 7 p.m. to see Danielle Ahern on Jeopardy. Or read about Shannon Pisney, a world-renowned doctor curing cancer or Pediatrician Kayla Lentz saving a little girl’s heart. You could be walking through an art museum with your kids and look up to see Allison Martinek’s famous portrait. Or one day you drive by the local cops and recognize it’s your old besties, Autumn Forcelle and Tia White…”
Mannery continued, “I want to wish good luck to everyone on whatever path you decide to take. All of you can accomplish so many great things for generations to come. We are all going to have our opportunities and our failures, but it’s most important that we get back up and don’t let obstacles get in the way of our success and happiness in life.”
• Karissa Stika, daughter of Ron and Elaine Stika, was the final speaker on Sunday. She participated in Band, Choir, Contest Speech, FFA, school musicals, Golf, Girl Scouts, 4-H, County Council, and Faithful Followers. Her plans are to attend Minnesota State University in Mankato to major in Nursing. She also plans to be a member of the Maverick Machine Marching Band. 
“We worked hard to get to this point, but we didn’t do it by ourselves. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our teachers. Thank you for sharing your time, talent, and knowledge with us,” she said. “You demanded excellence from us. Whether or not we wanted to give it to you, you set the bar high and challenged us to live up to it.”
Stika also acknowledged parents, coaches, and advisors for the many countless ways they supported and encouraged their students throughout their educational careers.
“We’ve learned the importance of discipline and good sportsmanship,” she said. “Through other activities, like participating in clubs, school plays, and service projects, we learned how to work closely with others to achieve a common goal and we had a lot of fun doing it.”
Stika stated that it is hard to visualize the first day of their freshmen year. “High school has truly changed us,” she said. “Although it might not be easy to see, every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world’s accomplishments. Many records have been broken and memories made. We have accomplished the unthinkable. From becoming State Champions in Basketball, earning a Division I in four straight years for Band, or performing at State Speech. This proves we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to.”
Stika continued, “No matter where we go or what we do, there are going to be challenges for each of us. But what I am asking each of you, and myself, [to do] is to meet those challenges straight on with your heads held high and hearts wide open. It is simply not enough to give up, or to simply try in life. You must try to excel in everything you do.”
“If all of us strive to reach our greatest potential,” she said, “imagine the effect it would have on the world.”
Congratulations to the Crestwood Class of 2018!

Cresco Times

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