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Hinckley-Big Rock class of 2013 ‘like brothers and sisters’

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Erik Anderson for Shaw Media)
Graduate Mitch Hemesath, 18, swings a clothes hanger around his finger while fellow graduate, Nick Gentry, 17, stands off to the left before heading to the gym Sunday for the graduation ceremony at Hinckley-Big Rock High School in Hinckley.

HINCKLEY – Abby Tosch cried during Hinckley-Big Rock High School’s graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon – and the two boys sitting behind her got red in the face.

Many of the 55 students who graduated have known each other since grade school.

“I can’t even express how much I’m going to miss everyone,” Tosch said. “They’re like my brothers and sisters.”

Tosch received the Charles B. Hillman Award, which goes to a student who earned achievement in both the academic and athletic fields. She plans to attend St. Ambrose University in the fall to study elementary education.

The graduation also was special for principal Jay Brickman. Brickman became principal in 2009, so the class of 2013 was the first class he oversaw from their freshman through senior years.

“I had no idea the class would have such a profound effect on me,” Brickman said.

Paige Schreiber was among the graduates who attained a 3.0 grade-point average or higher in seven semesters. She is expecting a baby boy in August. She plans to take online classes at Waubonsee Community College to study nursing while she prepares for the birth of her son.

“I’ve been pushing to graduate,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber wore black sneakers with neon pink laces instead of wearing heels to make sure she was comfortable during the ceremony.

Salutatorian Emily Banigan plans to be a veterinarian when she’s finished with school.

She will be the second veterinarian in the family, her grandfather Dan Sullivan said. Sullivan and his wife own and operate a horse farm near Elizabeth, Ill., so his granddaughter was exposed to animals early in life.

With the help of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, students can continue to stay in touch, Jared Madden said in his valedictorian graduation speech.

Tosch said she’ll rely on Facebook to connect with friends, but “breaks will help” so she can see her friends face-to-face again, she said.

Lauren Dunteman, senior class president, said during her speech that it will be sad to say goodbye, but there are many things to look forward to.

“This is the day we’ve been waiting for,” Dunteman said. “This is the day when our lives will change.”

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