Maple Grove Holds Graduation Ceremony

Sixty-six students recently graduated from Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School.

The evening opened with Julie Verdonik, school principal, who spoke with the students about the importance of embracing failure. She referenced a speech given by Danzel Washington in 2004 at the University of Penn. She said there are three reasons to embrace failure: everyone fails at some point in our lives, so we all need to know how to do it; if you never fail take that as a sign that you aren’t really trying; and at the end of the day failure will help someone determine that path someone should be on. Verdonik stressed the importance of failing forward. She gave examples of several famous failures such as J.K. Rowling, Einstein, Dr. Suess and Michael Jordan. All of those people believe their failures led to their success.

Members of the senior class sang “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift. Grace Auer played the guitar.

The senior class gift to the school was two benches that can put outside the school’s new gym lobby.

The guest speaker was Jason Phillips, a 1988 graduate of Maple Grove. Phillips was also the valedictorian for his class. He is a partner in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that advises and counsels many of the worlds most influential business and institutions. He is a leader in the firm’s North America Private Equity practice, where he heads its Portfolio Company Performance service line and leads McKinsey’s engagement in the Private Equity Operating Partner community.

Phillip’s speech introduced a mnemonic to the graduates.

¯ A: Audacious

¯ L: Loving

¯ I: Inquisitive

¯ V: Vigorous

¯ E: Engagement.

He encouraged the students to get out from behind their screens and really live life. He encouraged them to take risks and never be afraid of failure. He encouraged students to fail forward. He also encouraged the graduates to identify their super hero power and to use it to do something important.

Chase Boardman, class valedictorian, spoke about the experiences members of the graduating class have shared during their years — school construction projects, Papa Js Pizza, reading 1984 with Mr. Hewitt and dozens more.

“And it’s all these experiences and moments that make each and every one of us, us,” Boardman said. “They are what make us dragons. So thank you, everyone. Thank you to my classmates for being more than just my classmates but my family too. Thank you to the Maple Grove faculty and administration for not just teaching us what was in the syllabus but for teaching us how to be good people. Thank you to my family. I’m sure I speak for all of us here when I say you are the one’s who deserve to be up here not me, not us. But now, it’s our time to step into the sun.”

Lauren Nelson, class salutatorian, spoke about the costumes students wore while they were at Maple Grove — mentioning a Famous Americans project in fifth grade and neon shirts that were threatened attire on the recent senior class trip. The final costume the group would wear at Maple Grove were their caps and gowns.

“Our costumes and uniforms have begun to tell our “story,“‘ Nelson said. “Tonight, our matching caps and gowns represent the common thread that we share as the Maple Grove Class of 2018. They represent where we have come from. I am honored to have grown up with each of you and created so many memories. Robert Orben suggested that the key to success is individuality, but I’m going to suggest that the key is to find and share costumes or uniforms with those with whom you share a common interest. Whether it is nursing scrubs, beautician capes, military uniforms, business attire, Broadway tap shoes, or any other costume — take pride in the people and outfits that you share a common interest with. This is the key to success. Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks once said, ‘When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”‘