From left, Brenna Bakke, Brandon Boeckman, Alison Brincks and Brandi Bueltel enjoy a lighthearted moment during presentation of Kuemper diplomas.
From left, Brenna Bakke, Brandon Boeckman, Alison Brincks and Brandi Bueltel enjoy a lighthearted moment during presentation of Kuemper diplomas.
May 20, 2013

For the 71 seniors who received diplomas at Kuemper Catholic High School graduation Sunday afternoon in the school gym, they're embarking on new venture away from normalcy and predictability, Class of 2013 valedictorian Aly Forbes said in her speech at the ceremony.

And salutatorian Carly Ludwig encouraged fellow seniors to follow the distinctive class motto, "Hakuna Matata," a Swahili phrase that's also a title from a popular song in the show "Lion King," meaning "no worries about the rest of your life."

"The more I thought about it, the more I truly understood the real meaning of what this quote was saying," said Ludwig, daughter of Gary and the late Sue Ludwig. "It does not mean that we will not face difficulties in our lives. It does not mean that this transition we are about to make from high school seniors to college freshmen will be easy. It does not mean that we will have everything figured out and all our questions answered. What it does mean is that although we face worries in our lives, we must wake up each day being proud of who we are and who we have become. We must see each day as a gift."

Forbes, daughter of Tom and Diane Forbes, said seniors know they're entering unpredictable territory.

"None of us knows exactly what the future holds after we walk out the doors of Kuemper Catholic High School today," she said. "For all of us, this is not the first time we have dared to venture away from normalcy and predictability toward some unknown destiny. From leaving the comfort of our home or a baby sitter or day care to got to school for the first time to walking through the front doors of our first day as freshmen; from going to dances and various other events to joining extracurricular activities in high school, we have all made that journey countless times. Sometimes we were eager to jump into the future with both feet, and other times we required encouragement, pushing and prodding to take the next steps in our lives."

Forbes and Ludwig thanked family, friends, teachers and clergy for the support and preparation they've given students toward making those next steps.

Forbes added, "Last but definitely not least, we have to thank all of those sitting next to us today: our fellow classmates of the Class of 2013. Together we joyfully embraced the chaos of state tournament weeks and shared the hysteria and confusion of a snow day in May. We have laughed together, cried together, but most of all had an incredibly fun four years together. In the last four years we have become more than classmates. We have become each others' teammates, cheerleaders, fan clubs and best friends. We leave Kuemper today not only as the Class of 2013, but as a family that will continue to love and support each other through whatever our futures hold."

Forbes, who plans to attend Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. and begin pre-medicine curriculum , urged classmates to "make the most of whatever the future throws at us ... jump into the future with both feet."

"Because if we do this," she concluded, "we will all, in the words of St. Catherine of Siena, 'set the world on fire.'"

Ludwig, who plans to attend Iowa State University, said, "This class is motivated, dedicated and ready to create their own path and not us follow one that exists today. I have no doubt we will live by the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: 'Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead where there is no path and leave a trail.'

"We will make new roads, we will make a difference, and I know we will always remember the trail back home and our lives here at Kuemper. Although we are taking different paths, following different dreams, and setting different goals, we will always remember the gifts Kuemper has given us. The gift of friendship. The gift of love. The gift of dedication, hard work and courage. And finally, the gift to see each day as an opportunity to become the best person you can be.

Ludwig concluded, "So now, what better way to end our last day at Kuemper than with a prayer. Dear Lord, as I thank you for the gift of life, I also thank you for the gift of wonderful people I have met along this journey. Some of them inspire me, stretch me, challenge me, love me and encourage me. All of them helped me to realize how meaningful and beautiful life is. Help me to see each day as a gift from you. Amen."

The Kuemper guidance office says 42 members of the Class of 2013 plan to go on to four-year schools, 27 plan to attend two-year schools, one is entering vocational school and one will begin work.

Kuemper principal Penny Miller commented on the 2013 graduates, "This class was extremely talented in many areas. A record number of seniors were involved in the area of speech and the musical. The class enjoyed state competitions in several sports over the four years. They received many great scholarships from local organizations and families as well as generous financial packages from their chosen colleges. They will also long remember their 'snow day in May.'"