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Keiser to WP graduates: You come from a special place PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 02 June 2011 18:21

By Josh Sumner

The Wauneta Breeze


Aaron Keiser, a Class of 2004 Wauneta-Palisade graduate, was the keynote speaker at this year’s Wau-Pal graduation and commencement ceremony on Saturday. Though he’s still early into his adult life, Keiser possessed a lot of wisdom, which he shared with the WP 2011 class.

Keiser opened his speech by reflecting on the feeling of excitement he had as a senior, ready to leave small town life. But he says he quickly found out after leaving home how much he appreciated his roots. It wasn’t the classes or the football games he says he remembered best, but the people — his friends, his teachers and all the other people who dedicate their life to making WP Schools run.

Keiser, who currently works as an admissions counselor at Colby Community College in Colby, Kan., talked about the winding path his college career followed. The young man explained how his college career came full circle, bringing him back to Colby — the very college he graduated from just a few years earlier.


2011 Wauneta-Palisade co-valedictorians Chris Bartels, above, and Breann Maris, below.


After obtaining his associate’s degree at Colby, Keiser prepared to transfer to a larger, 4-year school. But the transition wasn’t easy. During his speech, he talked about the difficulty he experienced making the next step. Not only did he have a hard time adjusting to big campus life, he was shaken when his grandfather died.

That’s when Keiser made the decision that has ultimately been the crushing blow to many would-be college graduates. He decided to take the semester off.

And returning to school was tough.

“I’m sure you all have heard that if you take a semester off, it’s very hard to motivate yourself to go back,” said Keiser. “I can speak from experience when I say there is no statement that is more true.”

Luckily for Keiser, he received solid advice from his little brother, who encouraged him to enroll at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln the following semester. He did just that, and graduated from UNL with a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2010.

Though not as traditional as the four-year path many college students take, Keiser said he wouldn’t trade his 6-year college experience for the world.

Keiser closed his speech with a quote from the great wordsmith Abraham Lincoln:

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”


Pair of valedictorians address crowd

The class of 2011 was lucky enough to have not one, but two valedictorians among their graduating group.

Chris Bartels, speaking first, delivered a speech in which he paralleled the lessons he’s learned in life, as well as on the basketball court.

Bartels was a standout basketball player in his four years at Wau-Pal, and will be taking his skills to college when he suits up for Hastings College next season.

Bartels used a quote from the late, great college basketball coach Jim Valvano’s famous 1993 “Never Give Up” speech, as he addressed his classmates: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”Perseverance and hard work were among the central themes of Bartels’ speech. He went on to talk about the specific life lessons he learned on the basketball court.

The first lesson is that as you begin playing basketball, you learn the fundamentals. Life has the same fundamentals that must be learned. Also in life, and in basketball,

Bartels said, “If the plays aren’t working, you have to readjust the game plan.”

Trying to win more games than you lose, but accepting defeat graciously was the final lesson.

Following Bartels at Saturday’s graduation ceremony was fellow valedictorian, Breann Maris, who gave an inspirational graduation address to her peers.

Maris focused much of her speech on the future, and how the Class of 2011 will be able to shape the new world. Among the quotes she used was a famous one from John C. Maxwell: “Every achievement comes at a price,” said Maris.

She went on to thank all the WP teachers from throughout her years of school, whom she said made the dream of being a successful student possible.

There were no salutatorian addresses from this year’s trio of winners: Bethany Riener, Colby Skelton and Rebecca Strand.

Skelton did, however, address the crowd as class president in a welcoming speech.