For Maine South grads, let the future commence
06/03/2012 Rosemont Maine South senior Austin Bryniarski receives his diploma during the Maine South High School Commencement Ceremony at the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont on Sunday, June 3, 2012. | michael jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:16AM
Dressed in their vibrant-red caps and gowns, Maine South High School graduates anxiously waited in line before the 2012 commencement ceremony began on June 3.
The air was filled with anticipation, nervousness and excitement, as students prepared to walk across the stage at the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont to be handed a piece of paper that represents their past four years at Maine South and a beginning of their future.
“I’m feeling nervous,” said Dan Ward, who plans to attend Oakton Community College in the fall. “It’s a bittersweet ending.
“I’ve been waiting for it (graduation day) for a long time”
It was a day of mixed emotions for Kaja Zuchowski, as well.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Zuchowski, who will study psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall. “At the same time I’m sad and nervous.”
Zuchowski said she will miss her friends, and it’s strange to think she won’t be seeing all of her classmates after graduation day.
“I’m not really nervous because there’s nothing at stake,” said Lindsey Zawila, who noted that she was feeling excited to graduate. “I’m going to miss some of the teachers.”
Zawila said some of the teachers have taught her things beyond lessons in the classroom. Zawila will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is undecided on her major.
On that special day about 650 graduates walked across the stage and received diplomas.
Maine Scholars, who are in the top 1 percent of the graduating class, were acknowledged at the ceremony. The 2012 Maine Scholars included Ethan Campbell, Colton Cannon, Alexander Heyde, James Loomos, Austin Bryniarski and Kerry Warchol.
The Maine scholars will receive a plaque and their names will be permanently displayed at Maine South.
“Tonight is a night to be proud,” said Maine South Principal Shawn Messmer. “I’m proud they’re heading out into the world to represent Maine South in their community.”
Madeline Vogg, vice president of the senior class, acknowledged that hearing her teachers say that after graduation day she will be in the “real world” was kind of scary and upsetting, but an exciting change, too.
“For the first time in our lives we’re in control,” Vogg said.
Vogg said not one of the graduates’ paths will be the same, and noted the beauty in that.
“Tomorrow, with all its uncertainty, is still just Monday,” Vogg said.
Class President Patrick Wohl said in his address to his peers: “Maine South students share a bond. Maine South has been the stage of our lives these past four years.”
Wohl encouraged the graduates to remember the hard work they put in and the good friendships they have made over the past four years.
Board Member Eric Leys accepted the graduating class and talked about the high quality of education graduates received at Maine South High School, and how they should all be very proud.
Board Members Margaret McGrath and Donna Pellar were also in attendance at the ceremony.
Other speakers thanked their parents for their support during high school and encouraged the graduates not to fear rejection, and to continue to explore and be curious like they did when they were children.
Some administrators, while wholly confident that commencement itself would go well, were far more concerned about everyone finding a place to park.
The Akoo Theater now only allows 500 parking spaces. Previously there were 1,300 spots, but the facility lost 800 due to the new outlet mall behind the theater. Organizers did mailings and sent emails to encourage students to carpool and arrive early to get a parking space in order to avoid having to pay for parking in a nearby garage. The ceremony has been held at the Rosemont Theater for the past several years.
“I thought it went really smoothly,” said Assistant Principal Rose Garlasco, noting that she was pleased with the graduation ceremony, which lasted about an hour and a half, and said he was excited for the students and their families. “My biggest concern for this was the traffic and the parking.”