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Graduation bittersweet for G-K students

Photo Gallery: Local graduations

GENOA – Alexandria Berott and Hayley Ready have been best friends since seventh grade.

The Genoa-Kingston High School seniors met in their language arts class at Genoa-Kingston Middle School after Ready moved to Genoa from Sandwich.

The two hit it off and have been inseparable ever since. The duo will attend Kishwaukee College together to study radiology in the fall.

Ready and Berott were among the 150 Genoa-Kingston High School seniors who graduated Wednesday. As the students filed into the gym to loud cheers from friends and family, Ready and Berott said the moment was bittersweet.

“It’s the end of a chapter,” Berott said. “But you’re going to start another one.”

As senior class President Samantha Fisher addressed her classmates during Wednesday’s ceremony, she recalled how much the eager seniors couldn’t wait to graduate.

But now that the moment has arrived, she said the students have realized just how significant a role the school has played in their lives, preparing them to be young adults beyond the halls of G-K High School.

Donna Koehnke, one of the school’s academic guidance counselors, said it’s always rewarding to see the students go from confused freshmen with no idea what they want to do in life, to experienced seniors who have set their minds to accomplish certain goals.

“It’s really neat to watch the students mature...and become their own person,” she said.

About 45 percent of the Class of 2013 will attend Kishwaukee College, while about 30 percent will go to a four-year institution, Koehnke said. Several students have earned academic scholarships through their future schools or local organizations and companies such as Custom Aluminum and Greenlee.

Many parents, including Karen Gumino, still are struggling with the idea of their children moving on as adults, but said she’s proud of her only son, Brian, for his accomplishments.

“It’s like opening new doors,” she said. “I know he’s going to do great things.”

Brian will attend Northern Illinois University where he will major in mechanical engineering on a partial scholarship.

Genoa-Kingston principal Don Billington said he will remember this class as an outstanding bunch.

“They’re a good group of kids,” he said. “Some of them are very driven and want to excel and I’m sure they’ll be very successful.”

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