Graduating seniors were told how a tax referendum approved some 25 years ago helped them become a member of the Annawan Class of 2013.
Ron Tuisl of Plainfield, who served as Annawan superintendent from 1985-95, shared the history of the Annawan School District at commencement exercises on May 19 in the high school gym.
"Initially, I was going to use a speech by Bill Gates of Microsoft fame that he gave to a high school graduating class," Tuisl said. "However, these graduates could go to their iPhones and have everything he had to say first hand."
Instead, Tuisl's message to the graduates was about some of the history of the school district and "why these students are on this stage and not one in Geneseo, Kewanee, Prophetstown or Western."
"About 25 years ago a referendum was passed by residents of Annawan, Hooppole and Mineral to keep this school district going," he said. "It was for a 70-cent increase in the education fund and increased property taxes by an unheard of amount at that time because of the economy."
When the referendum was approved, Tuisl said he received telephone from the State of Illinois asking what Annawan did to get it passed.
"We had one public meeting and the board of education members went out and told the community that if they wanted to keep their school to vote for it. It passed by a 60 to 40 margin," he said.
"What has that meant to the community"? He asked, and then listed benefits, including, "The 24 grads on this stage are here rather than those districts mentioned.
"Hillary Clinton said, 'It takes a village' to raise children," he said. "It is that strong contact that gave your school district a discipline of expectation. Students knew that everyone wanted them to see them do well and achieve. The Class of 2013 has upheld this tradition."
The speaker shared one of his favorite quotes, "One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, or how much money I had in the bank, but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in a child's life."
He closed with, "This is what Community Unit School District 226 did for you graduates. Will you do the same for future generations?"
Superintendent Joe Buresh presented awards at the graduation program and diplomas were given to students by school board vice president Jerad Heitzler.
The motto of the Class of 2013, "As each of us follows our path in life, we will remember these years. We will remember our friends, the laughter, and the pain. Our smiles reflect the memories locked deep within our hearts. Future dreams shine like bright stars against distant nights. We have grown so much, and yet we will grow forever."
Page 2 of 2 - Members of the Annawan Class of 2013 are: Jacob Russell Arnold, Grant Michael Baele, Austin Jacob Bitting, Marianna Del Grande, Anthony Joseph Gripp, Herman Kaur, Donovan Kirkhove, Timothy James Kirkhove, Tanner Jay Kuelper, Hunter Matthew Lyon, Eustacio Marquez Jr., Evan Lee Norberg, Trever Olen Elmer Petersen, Uriah Christian Rico, Bret Michael Rosenow, Taylor Michael Rosenow, Alexis Jane Sierens, Michael George Smith III, Alyssa Alizabeth Thompson, DeAngelo Lamont Washington, Kaleb Alonzo Grant Webster, Taylor Ann Wilson, Sarah Nicole Wondercheck and Emillie Paige Wright.