RICHMOND – Richmond-Burton Community High School’s senior class filled the library from one end to the other Sunday, each member clad in a maroon cap and gown.
Moments before the students were instructed to put away their cellphones and spit out their gum so they could find their place in line as the Class of 2014, Kassidy Sanko and Casie Colletti stepped into the hallway for some air.
“It’s unreal, but it’s bittersweet at the same time,” Sanko said.
They won’t be walking the high school halls, making memories with their friends anymore, she said.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking that we’re going to be starting our lives,” Colletti said.
Best friends since they met in kindergarten – when they actually started out hating each other – the two will be about a five-hour drive apart.
Colletti plans to attend Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, while Sanko will study cosmetology at a school in Crystal Lake.
The thought of the distance started bringing tears to Sanko’s eyes before she took a deep breath and promised to visit and video chat as often as possible.
During the ceremony, a tear-jerker moment came for the moms in the crowd when, during a musical tribute, the grads went into the stands to give their parents a rose.
This came not long after valedictorian Erica Johnson told her classmates to come home – but not too often – in order to remember who and what made them the people they have become.
“RB has prepared us for this next step in our lives, this next pivotal moment … the Richmond-Spring Grove community will still be here for us, ready to aid or assist, congratulate or comfort,” she said.
Salutatorian Luke Gault also spoke, taking a look back at the last school dance, the last class, the last time they parked their car in the lot as a student, and the last time they’ll be seeing the same people they’ve known most of their lives on an everyday basis.
Gault said he has dozens of memories from class where he didn’t remember what was being taught that day, but can recall a funny story or event.
Things like tangents, cosine and precipitates are important to learn, Gault said, but they didn’t change him, not like memories have.
“That’s what I think the most important thing to take away from RB is – the experiences,” he said.
When he walked through the school doors four years ago, Gault didn’t know who he was, he said.
“But as we leave here, it’s different,” he said. “What we have learned through our four years here at RB is what it means to be ourselves.”