From left, Jasmine Schieffer, Paige Kasperbauer and Jessica Schieffer are high on celebrating their Carroll High School graduation.
From left, Jasmine Schieffer, Paige Kasperbauer and Jessica Schieffer are high on celebrating their Carroll High School graduation.
May 13, 2013

With five valedictorians and one salutatorian speaking at Carroll High School's graduation Sunday afternoon in the school gym, they addressed qualities and things to do - integrity, perseverance, identity, memories, change and recharging - that will serve graduates well in the future.

And they pulled those topics together by demonstrating an important quality - teamwork.

Student speakers led off with the co-valedictorian Christopher Pudenz, who addressed integrity; co-valedictorian Ann Steffen, perseverance; co-valedictorian Abbey Fordyce, identity; co-valedictorian Cassie Evers, memories; and salutatorian Maggie Espenhover, change. Finally, co-valedictorian Nick Shumacher added his own topic - recharging. Then he concluded the series of student speeches: "We take all of these concepts - integrity, perseverance, identity, memories, change and recharging - to the next stage of our lives, remembering where we've come from and what we've learned, loving the people that truly matter and that make us better people, and looking forward to wonderful and truly amazing experiences that have yet to come."

Coincidentally, longtime Carroll Middle School social-studies teacher Dale Schmidt, who was featured speaker, also talked about perseverance.

The school awarded diplomas to 142 seniors.

All five valedictorians achieved perfect 4.0 grade-point averages.

In his speech on integrity, Christopher Pudenz, said, "Living with integrity is of utmost importance. As we live in Iowa, I would venture to say every student here understands the basic principle behind farming: in the spring you plant seeds, and in the fall you harvest what you planted. So it is with life: the seeds you sow, you will reap. If you sow kindness, you will receive kindness, and if you sow honesty, you will be treated honestly. Finally, if you sow integrity, you will be shown integrity in return. It is hard to tell how exactly your actions will impact your life. However, I can tell you for certain that they will have an impact. In other words, choosing to live with integrity is one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your entire life."

Pudenz, son of Doug and DeAnn Pudenz, was active in speech club (president); back-to-back All-State Speech TV News; choir, show choir and Student Senate all four years; high school musicals; Carroll High tech intern; 2012 Boys State delegate; basketball; National Honor Society; 2012 Iowa Capital Project; Iowa Secretary of State 2012 summer internship; and National Merit Scholarship finalist.

Steffen said on perseverance, "I encourage all of you here to face whatever lies ahead with perseverance. The path ahead is not easy. We must strive to make the world what we want it. That is the key. We can do anything we want as long as we are willing to work for it, even if we have to try multiple times to get things right or have to alter our plans after life puts up hurdles. I have had the pleasure of watching each of you grow in the past six years, and I know each of you has something special to offer the world. Go out there trying to better yourself every day, and someday, you will do something wonderful."

She added, "Take each obstacle as a chance to challenge yourself. You've made it this far, and I know for most of us, it wasn't always easy, so keep going and seize each day as it comes."

Steffen, daughter of Scott and Kathy Steffen, was active in band, mock trial, musicals, track, speech, show choir, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), tutoring and chorus.

On identity, "Fordyce said, "The most important thing, and the one I can say with the utmost certainty, is that we all have our own unique identity - one that cannot be copied or duplicated, and one that his true to each and every individual that sits here today. I believe it is so important that when we part our separate ways in a few short months, we never lose sight of that truly unique identity we all possess. Life after high school is sure to bring about a lot of change in our lives, and as we experience and embrace that change, we must never lose sight of our original identities."

Fordyce, daughter of David and Amy Fordyce, was active in National Honor Society, swim team (captain and first state swimming champion from CHS), five CHS swimming records, first-team all-state swimming, second-team all-state swimming, Distinguished in Academic Achievement Swimming, and KCAU TV Best of Class.

On memories, Evers remarked, "As you're living this changing life, don't let yourself get caught up in your past. The transition to college or your life's next step will be an amazing and exciting one, but parts of it will be hard. You may find yourself getting homesick and nostalgic, and that's completely OK. But don't let that prevent you from making new memories. Go. Do. Experience. That's what life is all about. ... Treasure your past, but don't hesitate to pursue your future."

Evers, daughter of Gil and Jean Evers, was active in softball, basketball, volleyball, large-ground and individual speech, mock trial, fall plays, show choir, chorus, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), KINS (Kids Into Not Smoking) and Student Senate.

Addressing change, Espenhover said, "Change is a word we have all heard throughout high school multiple times, and I think it's safe to say we have all had our fair share of it. Our friends, our goals and our priorities have all changed. And although those changes can be lots of things - scary, exciting, unpredictable and definitely hard at times - the changes we have experienced throughout high school have helped us discover ourselves and grow into the people we are today. As we all prepare to close this chapter of our lives and take the giant step into adulthood, as we head off to college next fall, let's not be afraid of all the changes that are about to come. Let's not be afraid to let those changes help us grow, and most importantly, let's not be afraid for those changes to allow us to live our lives to the fullest and become the people we are meant to be."

Espenhover, daughter of Tom and Julie Espenhover, was active in varsity swim team, tennis, National Honor Society, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), KINS (Kids Into Not Smoking), Big Brothers and Big Sisters and basketball manager.

Schumacher noted the different ways students may choose to spend their time to recharge.

"And if you choose the right ways to recharge, you become a better person. And you learn some of the most important lessons of your life," he said. "... Things like learning how to manage your time, or learning a new skill with hobbies you have, those are lifelong lessons that will forever have value. And through all of this recharging, we spend time with the friends and family that make us better people."

Schumacher, son of Jerry and Ruth Schumacher and Bob and Elizabeth Peterson, was active in chorus four years, show choir four years, high school musical three years, concert band four years, jazz band four years, drum major, ABC TV 5 Best of Class and Rotary Youth Leadership Award.

Featured speaker Schmidt, who's taught in Carroll Community Schools throughout his 36-year career, pointed to the importance of perseverance throughout history. For instance, inventor Thomas Edison experimented with thousands of materials before finding the right filament for lights. And the first women's rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, N.Y., decided on women's right to vote as a goal. But it took 72 years before the women's vote amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution.

Schmidt said, "Whatever you set out to do, persevere. And remember, it is OK to ask others for help in accomplishing your goal. Each of you is on a different journey. Wherever the road of life takes you, stay on the road, moving forward. Don't just park along the side of the road.

"If you are criticized, persevere. If you experience hardships, persevere. If you get discouraged, persevere. If your are not successful the first time, persevere. Even if your goal takes a long time, persevere. Keep trying. Never give up."