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DeKalb Class of 2018 celebrates commencement at NIU Convocation Center

Graduates celebrate commencement at NIU Convocation Center

DeKALB – Families flocked to the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center on Saturday to watch
442 DeKalb High School students receive their diplomas.

DeKalb High School Principal James Horne announced Anan Ghrayeb as the class valedictorian.

Ghrayeb also was one of the top 10 students in the Class of 2018. The other nine were Gabrielle Melms, Isabella Maria Bettner, Clay Ward, Katherine Sharp, Ali Thahab, Melissa Stone, Dylan Propheter, Lincoln Draper and Samantha Schimbke.

Some students wore different colored cords with their graduation gowns to show what they accomplished while in school.

Ward wore an orange cord for his 3.75 GPA, blue and yellow cords for National Honor Society membership, a red cord for the 6 pints of blood he donated, and a tan cord denoting the Seal of Biliteracy. He also wore a medal for serving as the student council president. Ward plans to attend the University of Illinois and major in political science.

Ward and Maria Mascote introduced Horne at the graduation ceremony.

“We hope you all know how proud we are of all of your accomplishments,” Horne told the 2018 graduates. “I was proud to be your principal.”

Horne asked the audience to recognize the students who are joining the U.S. military, students who will be attending two-year and four-year educational institutions, and students about to join the workforce.

He also asked the audience to recognize the parents and guardians of the students.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” Horne said. “These students would not be here today without your support.”

DeKalb Assistant Principal Sean Potts said the Class of 2018 was “full of the nicest kids.”

“They are devoted to community service,” Potts said. “Graduation day is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. It was exciting for me to watch the same kids I once taught in middle school walk across the stage today.”

This year was DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven’s first in the role.

“I’m here to recognize the collective success of the Class of 2018,” Craven said. “Parents have invested thousands of hours getting their children to this point. They have been celebrating their successes and putting them back together when times were tough. Our purpose as educators is to prepare these students for their tomorrow.”

Craven then addressed the students.

“Your tomorrow looks nothing like today,” he said. “Your world will be one of rapid change. Evolve to meet the changes of your time. You are bright, innovative, determined and multitaskers. You can achieve whatever you want to do.”

Nhi Vo’s family came from Vietnam. She will attend Grinnell College in Iowa in the fall and plans to major in psychology.

As the student speaker, Vo told students to “heed the advice given by [your] parents, teachers, coaches and mentors and look forward to new horizons. Life will constantly challenge you. High school is just the beginning of life’s adventures.”

Vo’s speech included remembering Ata Shakir, a DeKalb High social studies teacher who died last summer.

Gabrielle Melms was asked to acknowledge District 428 staff and retirees.

“We all have someone we can thank for helping us get to where we are today,” Melms said. “They believed in us.”

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