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CLASS OF 2024 - Fiftyone seniors, members of the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Class of 2024, threw their caps in the air in celebration Friday, May 24, in the JWP gym.       

JWP class of 2024

51 graduated
 “Four years we will never forget, even if we did some things we regret.”
That statement from JWP graduate Katelyn Ziemke served as the motto for the Class of 2024. Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, May 24, 51 JWP seniors enjoyed the tradition of hearing the band welcome them with “Pomp and Circumstance” as they walked to their seats, enjoyed musical performances dedicated to them, heard speeches from their class valedictorian and salutatorian, and received their high school diplomas. The class colors were royal blue and silver; the class flower was a white rose with blue tips.
Although the commencement ceremony is usually held on the JWP football field, storms from the night before and the early morning, followed by windy conditions at the time of graduation, forced the exercises to be moved to the high school gym.
With the JWP high school choir performing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” High School Principal David Rysdam gave the opening remarks.
“Over the last couple of days, it’s been a pretty common theme for me to try to explain to these young men and women that while today is about them, it’s not totally about them. It’s also about you folks…parents, teachers, grandparents…the community at large who helped mold these kids and give them the knowledge and skills they need to move on from JWP and find a life of their own.”
He decided to take a “brief moment away from the kids” to thank the community. “This is a fantastic group of kids, and you did a great job with them all,” Rysdam said.
“The only thing I could really think about for opening remarks is this day is as much about this moment as it is about memories.”
He then shared three memories, one personal and one about the group. Rysdam reminisced on his first three years at JWP. The first year with the Class of 2024 was normal, he said, but in the second year, he saw a switch. “Suddenly, I knew nothing, and they knew everything about life,” he joked. “The other thing I thought about was that last year, I was faced with facts that they found on TikTok. And then I shake my head and think, ‘Why am I doing this?’”
The last one — a personal memory — was about driving lessons. He remembered a time when he and his son were driving south toward Waldorf and came to the sudden turns. “About a third of the way to the corner, my son finally understands why I tell him to slow down around corners: Centrifugal force is a thing, Newton’s laws apply, and his science teacher was actually right.”
The choir then performed Greg Gilpin’s arrangement of “Irish Blessings,” wishing seniors guidance as they graduated. Following their performance was a speech by Valedictorian Lauren White. She expressed her gratitude and pride for being part of the Class of 2024 and what they achieved.
“Our time at JWP has been filled with growth, learning, and discovery. Together, we navigated the highs and lows of growing up in this community, celebrated victories both big and small, and formed bonds that will last a lifetime.
“I want to take a moment to thank our amazing teachers and staff. Teachers, thank you for your hard work and dedication. You have taught us so much and pushed us to become who we are today. Thank you for your support. Your contributions have made a big difference. Thank you for believing in us.”
White concluded her speech by reflecting on the path that led her and her fellow students here. “As we approach a new beginning, the future stretches before us with endless possibilities.” She shared a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. Whatever you do, you have to keep moving.”
“Congratulations, Class of 2024,” White said. “The world awaits us, and I do not doubt that together, we will rise to meet the challenges that lie ahead with courage and determination.”
The band then performed a medley of music from Frozen, mainly featuring “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and “Let It Go.”
Salutatorian Alexis Dahlberg spoke shortly afterward, sharing some memories from elementary school and the past school year. Among the memories she mentioned was a time when the class shot off bottle rockets during science class, and their sixth-grade trip to Eagle Bluff. Two memories came to mind from the trip: the team-bonding activities like the ropes course that challenged some more than others and the making of cornbread over a fire, which she made sure to thank her dad for cooking for her group.
“No matter what, we were always there to help each other,” Dahlberg added.
She also remembered when the class had to learn square dancing and another dancing unit where she claimed the teacher took the phrase “break a leg” a little too literally and ended up with a sprained ankle.
Other memories she shared included the class’s time doing virtual learning, a dress code protest, the homecoming and snow week pep fests, JWP’s girls’ basketball teams defeating NRHEG twice for the first time in years, the volleyball and football teams winning their homecoming games, and track athletes breaking school records.
“To my fellow seniors: this is a long journey, difficult at times, but rewarding in the end.” Dahlberg said. “Cherish these memories we’ve made and look forward to creating new memories in the future. Congrats, Class of 2024. I know that every one of us has a bright future ahead, and I cannot wait to see what it holds for us.”
The presentation of diplomas went more quickly than usual. All 51 students received their diplomas from school board chair Sherri Daschner (some of them received their diplomas from parents) and smiled for the camera. After handing out the diplomas, Rysdam was proud to present the graduated Class of 2024.
After honoring tradition by moving their tassels to the other side of their caps and throwing them into the air, the JWP graduates marched out of the gym to “Auld Lang Syne,” leaving it and the school as students for the final time. The next time they walk through the front doors of JWP, they will be honored alumni.


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