CRYSTAL LAKE – Grandmother Ginny Pulver hustled across the broad grassy expanse north of the Crystal Lake South football field Saturday, her shoes kicking up little tufts of recently mown grass.
Soon her grandson Zachary Pulver-Knowles would be among more than 450 grads to receive their diplomas on a field decorated with Gator green and gold.
“I’m very proud of him,” Pulver said of the first of a couple of grandchildren whose graduations she was set to attend Saturday. “He’s done very well.”
Sue Chrystal and Bill and Tresa Schultz were among parents who’d staked claims to seats in the first row of the bleachers before the 10 a.m. ceremony. They wore jackets or blankets or both as the temperature hovered in the mid 50s under cloudy skies.
“There’s a hockey game tonight,” noted Bill Schultz, clearly momentarily distracted by the fate of his beloved Blackhawks, who were down 3-1 in their playoff series as of Saturday morning.
His thoughts shifted as the graduates, gals in gold and guys in green, began to head toward their seats.
“I’ve already told her she’s going to be 16 the rest of her life,” Schultz said of his 18-year-old daughter, Sami, the Schultzes' youngest of two. “She’s not allowed to get any older.”
Virginia Mary van Vianen welcomed the crowd to her class’s graduation ceremony, the last over which Marsha Potthoff will preside as principal. She is taking a district administration role in the fall.
Salutatorian Andrew Joseph Koltun spoke of gratitude, even in the face of adversity.
“This year my father died,” he said. “It’s been a profound struggle … but I am grateful for the amazing support I’ve received.”
And valedictorian Irene Low Feng spoke of the recent realization among many in her class of the swiftly falling twilight on their high school years.
“We haven’t realized how much South is a part of us until now,” she said. “I appreciate every part of life that we’ve celebrated together. Because of our years at South, we’re ready, and in the future, if you ever doubt yourself, look back … you’ll always have your home. We’ll always have your back. So go for it.”
Sue Chrystal soaked it all in from the stands as she watched her 18-year-old son, Brendan, receive his diploma. He was the last of her four children to graduate high school.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” she said. “I’m very proud of all of them.”