Oregon High School Principal P. J. Caposey had high praise of the Class of 2013 on Sunday, citing its academic achievements and volunteerism within the Oregon-Mt. Morris community.
"This group of seniors is the fourth highest achieving group of students in the history of Oregon High School," he said. "In fact, on the last day of school Oregon students have served over 20,000 hours in the community during their high school experience."
As a whole, he said, the group had earned approximately $1.2 million in scholarships and 5 students had scored more than 30 on their ACT.
"Fifty had over a 4.0 GPA and 87 percent of the students walking across the stage today have earned college credit while in high school," he said. "I speak for the Oregon High School faculty and staff if I simply say 'job well done'."
Salutatorian Katy Speck, who gave the Senior Reflection, asked her 138 fellow students to reflect on their high school experience while looking forward to the future.
"It has taken us 2,275 days to get to this exact moment. Take a second to think about that. We've grown so much," said Speck. "High school was a very odd experience for me. I made some friends, enemies...I learned to love, dream and enjoy the ride. Laugh at how much you've changed.
"Class of 2013, I dare you to learn, I dare you to love, I dare you to laugh, dream and please enjoy the ride because you never know when the good old days will be gone," Speck said.
Oregon businessman Hollie Guist, a 1972 graduate of OHS and 1976 graduate of Luther College, gave the commencement address.
Guist urged graduates to continue to learn.
"You always need to keep learning and continue to educate yourselves," he said.
He said being successful doesn't necessarily make one great. "Reaching back to help someone does," he said.
He also encouraged graduates to meet challenges.
"In order for a turtle to move it has to stick its neck out. You must make choices to live creatively and reach out to the community," he said. "You should attempt to leave wherever you land better."
Caposey also acknowledged Joe Messenger as the valedictorian.
"Joe had over a 4.5 GPA and earned 40 hours of college credit," Caposey said.
He also accepted a United States flag that was flown in Afghanistan that was given to the high school by serviceman Jerry Newman, the father of graduate Garrett Newman, as an acknowledgement of care packages students had sent to service men and women as part of their community service effort.
And Caposey acknowledged 10 graduates who will be serving in the Armed Forces in some capacity after graduation.