Shawano grads encouraged to ‘win the week’

144th commencement ceremony held May 24
Kevin Passon

Those in attendance at the 144th commencement ceremony at Shawano Community High School on May 24 were treated to a class that featured eight co-valedictorians.

Each of them shared a message with their classmates, family, friends and faculty in attendance. One of those co-valedictorians, Onna Hermann, talked about resilience — the recovery from setbacks, adapting to change and moving forward.

“The challenges you face will not define you,” she said. “It’s how you respond to them that will.”

Hermann’s mother died in 2022.

“Although I’m always going to feel the loss of her presence with every milestone in my life, I will be eternally grateful for the lessons my mother installed in me,” she said, telling classmates they, too, can succeed through adversity. “Each challenge is an opportunity. Each failure is a lesson. Each success is a stepping stone to greater heights.”

Classmate Robert Schroth expressed gratitude to all parents and faculty for their help in making the class of 2024 the young adults they have become.

“During our four years together, you’ve transformed us from whiny, loud freshmen to slightly less whiny, passionate seniors who are ready to take the world by storm,” he said of Shawano High School’s teachers. “Your dedication, to both our growth and development, has made an indelible mark on our lives, and we are eternally grateful for the lessons you’ve taught us, both inside and outside the classroom.”

Courtney Schenk, another co-valedictorian, said the diploma they would receive that night is still a piece of paper.

“While it is the summary of a lot of hard work and dedication, it can’t tell the story of the friends we’ve had, the memories we’ve made and the good times we’ve shared together,” she said.

“Mastering Failure” was the topic of Ashley Hanssen’s speech.

“Everyone has failed,” she said. “Making the next step after failure is crucial in the journey to success.”

Hanssen said it’s about how you respond to failure that matters.

“Mastering failure is about embracing the lessons you’ve learned and using them to push yourself forward,” she said. “Furthermore, failure humbles us, reminding us of our humility and our limitations. It is a reminder that we are not perfect, and that is OK. What matters is how we pick ourselves up, learn from our mistakes and continue to strive for excellence.

“I can accept failure … but I cannot accept not trying. Failure is not the opposite of success. It’s a vital component of success.”

Other co-valedictorians addressing the gathering were Tristan Tetting, Lillian Guenther, Natalee Jung and George Buerman V.

Shawano School District Superintendent Kurt Krizan challenged the students to “win the week,” a philosophy of Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors basketball team.

“Our days and weeks are filled with peaks and valleys,” Krizan said. “The philosophy of ‘win the week’ allows you to focus on the overall journey.”

“Win the week” transcends sports, the superintendent said.

“It’s about excellence, perseverance and making the most of every opportunity,” he said. “Kerr believed that if you win the week, you’re not just winning games, you’re winning practices, you’re winning preparation, you’re wining mindset. And when you do that consistently, success becomes inevitable.”

Kerr has nine NBA titles as a player and coach. Krizan said students who want to do their best can imitate Kerr by setting small achievable goals each day and focusing on what they can control — attitude, effort and preparation.