Last weekend marked the conclusion of Polk County’s 2019 commencements, six events that were red-letter days in the Bolivar Herald-Free Press’ calendar.
As we do each year, the BH-FP’s newsroom staff grabbed cameras and headed out to capture the milestone moments — and more than a few smiles.
Every year, we go to the same graduations, regularly witnessing the same traditions — the candlelight ceremonies and slideshows, the flowers handed out by graduates to their loved ones, the graduate choir performances, the silly string and the cap tosses.
And, yet, each year, these moments — much like the unique faces and personalities celebrating them — are new again.
Each year, the joyful anticipation of what the future will hold is infectious, perhaps partially because we feel connected to the students we’ve watched grow up along the way.
Documenting their moments, from birth announcements to honor rolls, from snapshots at school, sports and community events to feature stories about their accomplishments, our staff has watched the important moments with pride every step of the way.
These are our kids, too.
Their reminisces remind us to take stock of the gifts community and home provide. The emotion — the tearful embraces and poignant moments — tug at our hearts every time. And each year, the wisdom-beyond-years uttered by the commencement student speakers astounds us.
This year’s graduate speakers were no exception, offering up invaluable advice and encouragement to their classmates — and to all who bore witness. They urged all to keep their dreams alive, to always work hard, to value community and to embrace the promise — as well as the certain difficulty — of the future.
They reminded us to do all of the above with confidence, grace and humor.
If ever educators and all who play a hand in rearing Polk County’s youth doubt their impact, these speeches prove the life lessons that have been actively taught — and more — have taken root. And having those lessons delivered back is a true gift the Class of 2019 has given us all.
From the mouths of grads, it’s wisdom we could all do with, regardless of where we find ourselves on our lives’ journeys.
So along with our congratulations, graduates, we offer a sincere thank you.
Along with photos from each of the county’s commencements, transcripts of speeches delivered by students can be found in the BH-FP’s special graduation section, which will be inserted in the Saturday, May 25, edition.
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Congratulations are also due to several area track athletes who earned medals at the Class 1 and Class 2 state meet last weekend. Leading the pack of Polk Countians was Marion C. Early’s Zakh Taylor, who struck gold in the 100-meter dash. Read more about those results on Page 14A in today’s edition.
Our money — so to speak — is on further Polk County glory this weekend as Liberator track athletes advance to the state meet, led by the 4-x-800 relay team, who earned sectional gold Saturday in a school record-breaking performance.
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And a different group earned our admiration Monday night as Bolivar took a direct hit from severe weather.
With limbs blocking roadways and damage spreading across the south portion of town, emergency responders hit the streets doing what they do to keep us all safe.
We watched with respectful awe as emergency lights lit up the sky on the southside and responders landed at one site after another to help. We saw the job being done with not just skill, but also compassion and grace, with more than one taking the time to go house to house in at least one neighborhood, ensuring all were OK.
Thankfully, structures and trees — not our neighbors — bore the brunt of the damage with no injuries reported in Bolivar.