SOMONAUK – This Memorial Day weekend, Ross Raupp has many reasons to celebrate. Not only did he graduate from Somonauk High School, but he is also preparing to enter into the Marines.
"We are celebrating his graduation and the beginning of his future, a future in the military," said Robin, Raupp's mother. "We are proud of him and support him 100 percent."
Raupp, whose grandfather served in the Air National Guard, said that he wanted to join the armed forces since he was a young boy. Raupp enlisted last August and leaves in July for training in San Diego.
Raupp was one of the 61 students that graduated from Somonauk High School on Sunday. In honor of Memorial Day, the national anthem was played by the high school band. Veterans in attendance were recognized during the ceremony and a moment of silence was held for fallen soldiers. The school also gave a special recognition to the graduating students that were enlisting in the military.
"Graduation is a proud moment, but it shouldn't be their proudest," Somonauk Principal Justin Snider said. "No matter what they do in the future, whether it is training, college or the military, they have so much more to accomplish."
One student whose numerous high school accomplishments set her apart from the rest of the class was class officer Lauren Zaeske. Zaeske, a member of the National Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar, was a recipient of multiple scholarships and achievement awards due to her academic success. She was one of five valedictorians and helped create a short graduation film in lieu of valedictorian speeches.
"I have always been passionate about serving my class," Zaeske said. "A goal of mine was to be a part of everyone's high school careers and experience. ... It's difficult to think that this is goodbye, even though it's not. We will always be able to stay in touch."
Zaeske plans on attending Indiana Wesleyan University to pursue physical therapy.
Graduate Scott Thomas was the soccer team's captain and plans on majoring in business and playing soccer at Loyola University Chicago. He attributes his success in school to his teachers.
"The staff and teachers here are so passionate about what they do." Thomas said. "They make the classroom fun. They helped me find my interests and passions, and they gave me a foundation that I will take with me after I graduate."