Crystal Lake South grads 'justifiably proud'

CRYSTAL LAKE –Addressing his green- and yellow-gowned peers, Joseph Fues searched for perspective.

The Crystal Lake South High School salutatorian’s conclusion? The Class of 2014 is fortunate.

For teachers that have pushed them and parents that have supported them, more than 400 graduates should feel fortunate to be parked on Ken Bruhn Field in funny-looking hats, he said. Fues urged his classmates to reflect during a time that offers a rare chance at clarity.

“Use your new perspective to see how lucky we truly are,” said Fues, who will attend the University of Chicago next year.

Friends and family packed the bleachers and lined the fence around Crystal Lake South’s football field just after noon Saturday for the school’s graduation. A hot, sun-heavy day speckled the stands in umbrellas and caused one woman to overheat. Officials carried her down the bleachers to a stretcher, where paramedics wheeled her into an ambulance.

But the focus was on the graduates Saturday. More than 90 percent of Crystal Lake South’s Class of 2014 will be attending two or four year colleges or universities next year, and the class brought in more than $2 million in scholarships over all, Principal Scott Shepard said.

On the ACT, 34 students scored at least a 30, Shepard said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Check out the best photos from Crystal Lake South High School's commencement ceremony.

“You may be justifiably proud of what you accomplished these last four years,” School Board Member Gary Oberg told the graduates.

Julia Thome has as much as any of them to be proud of. The class’ valedictorian, Thome is headed to Cornell University next year.

She used her speech to think back to the class’ earliest days of organized learning, when 1-2-3’s were the objective. She urged her peers to think of what counts.

“Just as learning to count numbers is essential in math, learning to count your blessings is essential in life,” Thome said.

Note to readers: a previous version of this story misidentified the graduate in the photo caption.