McDonell Graduation

Senior advisors hand white roses to the McDonell graduates. Graduates traditionally present a flower to a family member as a gesture of thanks. Pictured is Cassie Sorensen.

A Chippewa Falls high school held its 2019 graduation a few weeks ago, but the unique aspects of the ceremony have made the event one to remember.

McDonell Catholic Central High School in Chippewa Falls held its graduation ceremony on Friday, May 24, where the small class of 39 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and enter the next stage of their life.

Valedictorian Eleanor Blair addressed her classmates by encouraging them to live their lives their own way and find their own self in a world of imitation.

“Class of 2019, I want to encourage you to live with persistence,” Blair said. “We all have a different path and I encourage you to pursue it with fearlessness. Live the life you are called to, not the life others say you should.”

While the McDonell graduation ceremony included traditional aspects such as the playing of “Pomp and Circumstance” by the high school band, a commencement address and students walking across the stage and shaking the hands of faculty, a few inclusions in the program’s itinerary were unique and helped add a level of creativity to the event.

The Bishop Award is an honor bestowed upon one student in the senior class who has shown particular determination and commitment to the religious aspect of the school. The McDonell staff collaborates to choose the winner and this year’s Bishop Award winner Laura McChesney accepted the award with an overwhelming amount of humility.

“In my opinion, there were other candidates in the 2019 class that also followed the criteria to earn the Bishop Award and were better recipients for it too,” McChesney said. “But I’m flattered to hear from many people that said to me that I did deserve it, which got me up here speaking in front of you today. I guess I needed a push, well, more like a shove.”

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Many of the speakers during the ceremony emphasized the fact these students’ support structures played a pivotal role in helping them along their academic path. To honor these people, all of the students took time during the ceremony to present a white rose to their parent/family member as a showing of thanks. Unannounced to the students, many of the parents had a written message detailing how proud they are of their accomplishments they gave to their child in return.

The teachers at McDonell were also well represented during the festivities, as the commencement address was given by former teacher Alice Butler, whose last eighth-grade class is now the 2019 high school graduating class.

Butler said how proud she was of where the students have gone and is thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of their special day.

“You need to be cognizant and empathetic and never parsimonious with your copious amount of God-given talents,” Butler said. “Your cache of paraphernalia should include the amenities of being veracious, tenacious with a propensity to emulate the demeanor of those who make you feel ethereal and placid.”

An aspect of Butler’s teachings during her time in the educational system was a vocabulary test which many of the students remembered. During her address, Butler issued a challenge to her former students to see if they can still recall the terms she taught them during their eighth-grade year. If the students could get a certain number correct, Butler gave them $100 for their future schooling as an impromptu scholarship. Many students took their former educator up on her offer, with Sebastian Sykora getting the most correct with 58 out of 65 terms identified.

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