February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Graduation main address by Flannery McCorkle

Good afternoon, Spartans 
As I look out at my classmates, I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this graduating class.
We didn’t know if we would be able to be here together a year ago today, and thankfully here you are sitting before me. 
After each one of us walks across this stage, we will officially begin the next chapter of our lives. No longer will we walk the halls or play on the fields of Saint Joseph-Ogden High school as students. While our paths may look different as some of us head into the military, workforce, or go to college – forever we will have one thing in common… We are spartans. 
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the strength of my classmates. This past year when we should have been having our many lasts of high school, we were instead faced with adversity. During the COVID 19 pandemic I have watched every single one of us grow more than I could have ever imagined. We didn’t let this pandemic take away our senior year. Instead we accepted the challenges that were ahead of us. We continued to Be Excellent. 
As I reflect upon a quote from the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” 
That is what is so honorable about this class. During this pandemic, it has caused misfortune and misery, but it has made us more unified. I don’t feel angry or sad about this past year. Instead, I feel lucky to have gone through this with all of you. Let’s take a moment to give a round of applause as we have defied the odds and are still here to accept our diplomas. 
That being said, while I am attending the University of Illinois and looking back on high school, I will remember what it took me to get there. All of us have been blessed with the opportunity to have been able to be involved in clubs and sports here at SJO. That is four years of hard work and dedication. We continued to show up to extracurriculars such as National Honor Society, Student Council, and Spanish Club. We still dominated the fields and courts as the Spartans are expected to do. We have continued to have success in and out of the classroom. This is not a small feat to have accomplished during our not-so-normal senior year. 
Before I close, I would like to personally thank the teachers, staff, and parents of Saint Joseph-Ogden. During these trying times they continued to assist us into the next phase of adulthood. Without your support we could not have done this. Thanks to you we still acquired the skills that are necessary to succeed. 
That being said – it has been an honor to serve the class of 2021 as your president the last four years. 
Go Spartans. 

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