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The Final Bow — The Class of 2012 Graduates at the Sears Centre


On June 2, the Huntley High School Class of 2012 graduated at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.

A little after 2 p.m., superintendent Dr. John Burkey and principal Dave Johnson led the precession in two lines towards the stage while the Wind Ensemble, conducted by band director Nick Konwerski, played “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar. The Board of Education members and the rest of the high school’s faculty followed in the two lines. As the faculty proceeded down the aisle, the LED banners listed all of the students names in alphabetical order. This was the first year that a class from Huntley has not graduated on a District 158 campus.

As the class sizes grew, it was only a matter of time when the district would need a new venue to host the annual graduation ceremony. A new venue would accommodate more parking and more tickets to be purchased for those who want to see the ceremony.

The aspiration to look for a new venue started two years ago when Burkey and Johnson realized that with the class sizes growing there would be not a possible way to hold the amount of students, faculty, and loved ones in the East Gym.

Huntley students are not the only ones who were graduated at the Sears Centre. Almost ten other schools have started holding their graduation ceremonies there as well.

Click here to view the class of 2012 graduation photo gallery

“We talked with the other schools who have their graduations here and sort of bounced ideas off each other,” said Burkey. “Soon enough, we made a contract with the centre and the day was set.”

The Sears Centre Arena is the only big enough arena that is in close proximity to have the graduation according to Burkey. This venue was a wise choice since the workers there already know the routine of putting on a great graduation.

Each student is given only four tickets for his or her family to come and witness his or her special day. Additional tickets could have been purchased for ten dollars each at the school district’s web store with a credit card or families could have taken the chance and bought tickets on stand-by at the door. Those who ordered online tickets were available at Will Call.

“The additional tickets were actually used to help purchase our spot here,” said Burkey. “There were some families that ordered about 10 to 20 extra tickets for their family to come see their students graduate, and that really helped pay for this place.”

The students entered shortly after with women in red and men in black. Students who wore blue and yellow cords were inducted into the Quill and Scroll Honors Society by publications advisor Dennis Brown. Those who wore silver cords were a part of the Silver Cord Program where students would commit 30 or more hours of their time to earn this recognition. Gold tassels were worn to signify members of the National Honors Society. Student Council and Link Crew wore gold medals with white ribbons on their robes. Thespians wore blue stoles, and seniors who donated six or more pints of blood via the Student Council’s semi-annual blood drives wore red cords.

After the line of students were seated, Burkey made the welcome address and asked everyone to stand for the pledge of allegiance. He expressed how proud the district is of the class and pointed out the new venue in his speech. Burkey recalled a month ago when he was interviewing Co-Op students in mock interview style. According to Burkey those interviews were better than the ones he conducted in real life. He acknowledged “The Drowsy Chaperone” cast and the quality work that they produced,. He also mentioned how proud he was after senior awards night, which showcased many students in the Class of 2012.

“That’s how I know this class is ready to go out into the world,” said Burkey. “It is the quality they produce with everything they do.”

The ceremony was then handed over to Johnson where he announced salutatorian Madeline Bartot. She will be going on to Marquette University to major in Speech Pathology.

Bartot reminded the class “this is not the end”. She said that people should not think they had nothing to contribute to the world. The hardest part for her was that to think that she was replaceable. Anybody could have her job, her position, and anyone could be salutatorian.


“No one is truly irreplaceable,” said Bartot. “No one is no matter how small because we may be small now, but we also may be great.”

After Bartot’s speech, Johnson announced the valedictorian for the Class of 2012, Kristen Allen. Allen will be going to University of Illinois to major in history.

Allen’s speech contributed Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s success quote:

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

She spent time with each point and gradually increased her momentum. She reminds that their teachers are their most honest critics and to always leave the world a little better place to live in letting others breathe a little easier because they had affected them.

“For the past couple of months, our class have moved closer together and became a family,” said Allen. “We are raiders. WE are black and white. We are the class of 2012.”

After Allen left the stage, Johnson announced the Master Singers choir to perform #Y.O.G.O (You Only Graduate Once) with Zach Polentini on guitar. Graduating Master Singers and Treble Choir singers joined them. The song was a compilation of songs including: Tattoos on this Town by Jason Aldean, 2012 by Jay Sean featuring Nicki Minaj, Good Riddance by Green Day, and We are Young by Fun.

The beautiful harmony ended and Johnson took the stage once more to announce Student Council Body President and Vice President, Brandon Bencko and Rachel Bushnell.

They continued to thank the counselors and the secretaries of the school and the patience that they have in order to help the students with their problems and needs. They joked about how seniors would already try to add their favorite teachers on Facebook if they had not done so already. These guidance counselors were there to teach them teamwork, hard work, determination, and sometimes failure. Bencko reminded that, without the teachers, there would be no extra-curricular activities.

Bushnell and Bencko reflected over the past 18 years on what has changed and what has not. Reminding that Huntley High School has one of the highest ACT scores in the state and the bar will be forever rising.

“Without the class of 2012, there would be no Raider Nation,” said Bencko. “There would be no Hoedown or rollercoaster. There would be no Tinkle Times, and there would be no Drive-in.”

The student body then proceeded to gift Johnson with the senior gift, a check for $1,500 to go towards landscaping around the high school. The class of 2012 will remain an everlasting symbol around campus.

“Don’t cry because it’s over,” said Bencko and Bushnell. “Smile because it happened.”

Once again, Johnson took the stage to recognize the graduates that were going off to the armed forces. The entire arena stood up, took off their hats, and applauded for the men and women who will soon be serving in the United States Military.

The senior class chose other faculty members Dennis Brown, Rachelle Hewlett, Shelly Kish, and Angie Daurer to assist the Board of Education in distributing diplomas.

They passed out the diplomas one by one. After everyone received their diploma, they were seated for one last speech by Johnson.

As he took the stage for one last time that afternoon, he wished the graduating class good health and good wishes. He congratulated the Class of 2012 one last time. Tassels were moved from the right to the left, and hats were thrown in the air.

The procession rose once more to exit the Sears Centre to the song “Konigsmarch” by Richard Strauss as one last walk before they exited into the real world.

Editorial Note: From the entire staff of The Voice, congratulations. It has been an exciting couple of years at Huntley High School. We wish you best of luck as you move on. Thank you for leaving a lasting impression on Huntley. We will miss you, Michael Geheren, Online Editor in Chief, The Voice Online.






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