AHS graduates urged to follow their dreams, give back during commencement|
|Alumnus of the Year Jeremy Doucette told Antigo High School seniors to dream big dreams and share their talents with their community in a heartfelt commencement address Sunday.|
Doucette, a renowned scenic designer based in New York City, received his award from interim District Administrator Dr. Don Childs, highlighting a sometimes raucous and steamy ceremony celebrating the class of 2014.
Doucette graduated from Antigo High School in 1993, an exciting time that saw construction of the present high school and the Volm Theater. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and earned his master of fine arts degree in design from Rutgers University.
Since then, he has designed award winning sets, lighting and costumes for over 750 productions worldwide, including plays, musicals, dance concerts, art installations, themed environments, and awards shows.
Since 2006, he has been the director of production design For RWS & Associates Entertainment, a full service production firm based in Times Square. For 10 years, he has also held the position of scenic designer for the nationally telecast Drama Desk Awards.
But even with all those commitments, he returns to Antigo several times a year, working with L.A. Arts, which is seeking to construct a non-profit performing arts center, and the Antigo Theatre Guild.
Doucette was humble in his acceptance speech, telling the class that his first thought was “I’m not old enough to get an alumnus award.”
“I’m the guy you never see on stage,” he added.
Doucette called on writer friends in New York to help craft a “beautiful, inspirational speech” and then, at the podium, tore it up, saying he would rather speak from the heart.
And his heart revolves around community.
“In an age of social media, developing community is more important than ever,” Doucette said.
Doucette travels extensively in his work, and he said that wherever he goes, he works to build community with those around him, “making sure everyone shares their gifts and talents.”
Dreaming big dreams was his second point.
“The worst thing anyone can say to you is no,” Doucette said, adding that has happened many times in his career.
“Everyone here has a gift they should share,” he said. “Every contribution you have is important to build a strong community.”
The program opened with welcoming remarks by Class President Morgan Burkhart, who stressed that the focus of the day was to “celebrate the academic achievements and personal growth of the class of 2014.”
She thanked a long list of family friends and community supporters for “letting us have fun and teaching us a little something along the way” and said that after, 18 years, parents can “go on a little vacation” now.
Burkhart said that her classmates all contain “tremendous potential” and will “move on and be great.”
But she admitted there will be moments of homesickness along the way.
“Only in Antigo, can you truly come home,” she said.
Salutatorian Alexandra Falk offered the most creative remarks of the day, in the form of a “Dear John” letter addressed to Antigo High School.
“We both knew it wasn’t going to last,” she said. “We’ve grown apart.”
She used the next few moments to review freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years, and pivotal moments such as the junior prom, which she called “the motherlode of high school dances” and gaining a driver’s license.
“We drove a little too fast, played our radios a little too loud and spent a little too much on gas,”’ she admitted.
But now, she said, as seniors, they are simply “holding on to the remnants of a once-flourishing relationship” and it was time to end.
“Without you, Antigo High School, we would not be where we are or who we are today,” she said. “Don’t cry. Don’t beg us to stay. It’s over. It’s done.”
In his valedictory address, Joseph Reineke shared lessons, humorous and serious, learned over his years of high school and through his various classes.
“One of the best things in the world is seeing all your hard work pay off,” he said, adding that foreign language class taught him that “fairy tales are much less child-friendly when told in German.”
He pointed to the power of prayer and said God has a plan for each of the graduates.
“All of these lessons made me who I am today,” Reineke said. “It has been a great experience.”
Principal Tom Zamzow presented Falk and Reineke with Golden A’s as the top two members of the graduating class.
Natasha Voytovich, National Honor Society vice-president, read off the names of senior members of that academic organization and Dean of Students Amy Dahms listed the top quarter of the class.
School board members awarded diplomas.
Antigo High School seniors stand as National Honor Society Vice-President Natasha Voytovich recites the names of graduating members of the honor society at Sunday’s graduation ceremony.
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