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Brookfield Central Grads Urged to Follow Their Hearts

More than 300 seniors celebrated their accomplishments and remembered two former classmates at graduation Sunday.

  • Click here for a of Brookfield Central's graduation. A video of the Senior Chorus' performance of  "Coming Home" and a PDF of the program are attached to this story.

Dream big but make sure the dreams you follow are your own, 's valedictorian told his 300-plus fellow graduates Sunday.

Valedictorian Joshua Speagle urged his classmates to seek their own purpose and happiness, not to live out the dreams of their parents or others.

"The motivation to succeed should be internal.... because we want to," he said. "Don't be afraid to dream and dream big.... The sky is only the beginning."

More than 300 Brookfield Central seniors moved their tassels from right to left, symbolizing their graduation Sunday at a packed Field House at Brookfield East High School.

Flowers were placed on one of the graduates' chairs in honor of Lindsay Faith Huenink, who died in a train crash March 30, and there were tears and loud applause when her name was read during the presentation of diplomas. 

Social studies teacher Steve Holm was honored with the Teacher of the Year award. Laura Schmidt, executive director of the Elmbrook Education Foundation, recognized 12 Central seniors chosen to each receive $1,500 scholarships. 

Becky Copoulos, senior class vice president, said senior year had been rough with the losses of Huenink and Holly Christina Stahl, a 2009 Central High graduate who died in a car crash just before Christmas.

Copoulos said she would never forget the night students honored Huenink's memory during a soccer game. "Every single senior stood on the field and made a circle," she said.

They shared their most personal thoughts and vowed to appreciate what they have and hug more. "It brought us closer," Copoulos said.

Senior class president Elizabeth Stief said students shouldn't worry if their post-graduation years start out a little shaky. 

"Any beginning — perfect or not — can still lead to an amazing ending," Stief said. "It is what you will accomplish in the end that will make all the difference."

Stief encouraged them to enjoy the journey and offered plenty of inspirational advice, such as: 

  • "Don't be afraid to be yourself."
  • "Always live in the moment. Don't take anything around you for granted."
  • "Never, ever give up. It's OK to make mistakes."
  • "Choose your dreams and seek them out."
  • "Don't judge people."
  • "Be brave. Approach any adversity with courage."
  • "Hold on to what's important."

Speagle urged his fellow graduates to also listen and learn from those with opposing viewpoints. He expressed concern about increasing attempts by social media networks and marketers to target a user's beliefs and interests and only share like-minded information.

"It's not right," he said. "We need to see the world from other viewpoints."

Speagle personally thanked many of his teachers, such as Alice Rast and Jill Cook, extolling their attributes. 

Copoulos made students laugh and cover their eyes when she recounted some of the crazy things the senior class had done, like bike en masse through the city's roundabout, stopping traffic.  

"Our great times we had will always be cherished," she said. "Make the most of it and never forget the great memories you made at Brookfield Central."

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Miss the ceremony or want to see it again? The Elmbrook School District will broadcast it at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily on Time Warner Cable channels 13 and 96, starting on Friday and continuing through July 1. 

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