Perryville students strive for success after graduation


The Perryville High School seniors said their final good-byes to each other as the school year came to an end.
PHS graduated 168 seniors on May 17 at the Perry Park Center and were left with several moving messages
Student commencement speaker Simon Wibbenmeyer said that happiness can be a virtue of a successful life as he and his classmates embark on new adventures.
“It’s not unreasonable to suggest that everyone has a desire to be successful. For many, success comes in the form of money, and lots of it, but I hope that you will feel different about that definition of success once I give you my own. To that end, I’d like to talk about the movie Cars – yes, the animated motion picture that came out nearly 18 years ago,” he said. “The protagonist, Lightning McQueen, loves to win, but the issue is that it’s all he lives for. Eventually, he realizes there’s more to life than winning, such as being a part of a community and having friends. What I’m trying to get across to you is something similar: there’s more to life than being successful by earning a large amount of money. Instead, I like to think of success as just being happy, even if it is a choice to be happy.”

He directed his classmates to think positively and that will lead to success.
“I’d also like to add that being happy and helping others solves a lot of problems. Anything can make you happy if you let it. If you’re happy, the negative parts of life seem to fade away; making you a more positive person, pushing for the boundary of success. For an example, and a little bit of fun, I’m going to bring up Cars once again,” he said. “This time, in the third movie of the series, the advancement of technology catches up with Lightning McQueen, and he begins to lose and gets down in the dumps. No matter how hard he tries, he continues to lose races. Near the resolution of the movie, he once again achieves happiness, but why? Why does he all of a sudden become happy? Not because he has copious amounts of money, but rather because he gave another car the chance to succeed. At that moment, he was happy, forgetting about the many negatives he faced, content with the positives. With that, he was successful. With all that being said, it is clear that success isn’t just about having that crisp green rectangle called money. It wasn’t for Lightning McQueen, nor was it for the teachers, the family, or the friends who made it possible for us to be here today. This is why I extend a special thanks to all of those who helped us get here today.”
Staff commencement speaker Kersten Fulmer likened the students’ journey throughout high school was like leaves on a tree.
“It’s bittersweet to know our journey has come to an end, but so exciting to know that you will continue to perfect the best version of you and that your light will shine in all the places that you go. As you start your next journey, I hope you remember all the lessons that you have learned and the strength that you possess. Your futures are bright and full of endless possibilities, but as life begins to speed up, remember to slow down and appreciate the view,” she said. I was reminded of the significance of this while driving home one day. I drive the same route home, the scenery is always the same and has been for years so although I am paying attention to where I am driving, I don’t always notice the details. However, on this day, it dawned on me that all the leaves had fallen off of the trees and they were bare. The last time I remember looking, the leaves were only beginning to change. Somehow I got busy with life and the leaves finished their cycle, their vibrant colors lost as they fell slowly over time and I did not notice. This moment sticks with me because I couldn’t fathom how I missed something that was in front of my eyes on a regular basis. It’s the extra details I missed even though I thought I was making an effort to be more aware. As an adult and a mother, I know first hand how fast time moves and I realized this was my reminder I needed to pause. I promised myself at that moment that I would pay better attention to the leaves. That I would notice when they came back, full of life. That I would watch them grow and thrive through every change in their environment. And the next time it comes for them to go, I wouldn’t miss it again.