SOMONAUK – Memorial Day weekend has always been emotional for Nathan Hunt.
Every Memorial Day, Hunt remembers his uncle, Mark Repko, a pararescue for the U.S. Air Force who died while in service.
This year’s Memorial Day weekend was especially emotional for Hunt, since he was one of the 60 seniors who graduated Sunday from Somonauk High School.
Hunt will advance his uncle’s legacy by also enlisting in the Air Force. He leaves Aug. 6 for basic training.
“Graduating over Memorial Day weekend is humbling,” Hunt said. “I don’t take the sacrifices that were made for our freedom for granted. My uncle never returned from service, and he’s a big reason I’m joining the military. Today, I’m celebrating my high school graduation, but it’s important to thank and remember everyone that served and gave their lives for our country today and every day.”
The graduation ceremony also included a moment of silence for Memorial Day and honored veterans in attendance and recognized Hunt for his future military service.
The high school band also performed during the ceremony. Valedictorian Callalily Britt and salutatorian Elizabeth Tutor each gave speeches.
“Everyone worked really hard to get to graduation day. It’s difficult not to be nervous and excited,” Tutor said. “I transferred from Sandwich, so this was my first year in Somonauk. Everyone has been so nice. It’s so close-knit.”
Somonauk School District 432 Superintendent Jay Streicher said if he could use one word to describe the graduating class, he’d use the word “family.”
“The students are all very close to each other. They’re all very well-rounded and balanced, academically and in sports,” Streicher said.
Streicher remembered when the students first walked through the school’s doors as kindergarteners, and he was their elementary school principal.
“I remember them walking in as little 5-year-olds, and now they’re walking out the doors the last time as students, as adults that are taller than me,” he said. “It’s been like being a parent, seeing their growth through the years. I’m proud of how far they’ve come and look forward to many great things from the Class of 2019.”