Maine East grads urged to take chances, risk failure
School-board member Edward Mueller (right) presents diplomas to graduates. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:47AM
Maine East Senior Martin Sliwinski challenged his fellow graduates to take chances in life even though it means they risk failing in some things they will do after high school.
“Not failing is not the same thing as succeeding,” he said. “We can’t be afraid to take risks.”
Sliwinski, a Maine Scholar, was one of three students to address the graduating class June 4 at the school’s 110th commencement held at the Akoo Theatre in Rosemont.
The class, a wide mix of races, nationalities and religions, were watched by a nearly full theater of friends and family members as they took the final step out of high school and into their adult lives.
The students filed in from several entrances to the theater to more than 15 minutes of pomp and circumstance until more than 300 graduating seniors filled the stage at the former Rosemont Theater.
Principal Michael Pressler introduced class officers, as well as members of the staff and guests, including two school-board members.
He also noted some of the accomplishments of the Maine East Class of 2012.
Among those achievements were 38 students named Illinois State Scholars, and 43 Illinois Scholar-Athletes. Pressler said members of the graduating class have won scholarships totaling more than $700,000.
Students have had success in sports, with the soccer team winning the Illinois High School Association championship and both the soccer team and girls softball team winning “Do What is Right” sportsmanship awards from the same organization.
He also cited the graduating class for its charitable and volunteer efforts including an Iowa Relief Trip to assist in cleanup after floods hit the state and several programs run by students to raise money for a variety of charities.
“All of these students have contributed to the culture we call Maine East,” Pressler said. “This class has left its mark on Maine East.”
This student body, he added, “came to us as boys and girls and today they leave as men and women.”
Pressler said members of the class after their years at Maine East will be “compelled to give back to society and the world. I for one am certain we are in good hands.”
Class President Aahuti Patel told the class that she remembers the start of each year of high school when her friends returned with lots of stories of what they did during the summer. Those friends, she said, may stay connected for years to come.
“The friends we make in high school may be the same friends we share at weddings,” she said.
Patel noted the ethnic diversity of the graduating class and said it has enabled the students to learn to get along with people of different backgrounds and beliefs.
“We are able to see people past our differences,” Patel said.
Referring to the school’s Blue Demon mascot, she added: “We were all one nation, Demon nation.”
Ray Roman, one of four Maine Scholars, used a take on Disney’s “The Lion King” in his speech: Just as Simba had to leave his family and go into the wider world the Maine East 2012 graduates will be going on to college or other activities after high school and into the wider world.
“We embody the same characteristics of Simba,” Roman said. “Our journey into the untamed world will be what we make of it.”
In all, the graduating class had four Maine Scholars. In addition to Roman and Sliwinski they included Adam Ratner and Nicholas Harloff. Maine Scholars represent the top 1 percent of the graduating class.
In summing up his outlook on the future of the class members Sliwinski compared them to swimmers deciding whether to play it safe near shore or swim farther out to see what they could find and to challenge themselves.
“It’s about time we swim from shore into the open sea,” he said. “Life goes too quickly and do not let it pass you by.”