MOLINE -- The highlights of high school shouldn't be who was the most popular, who got the best grades or who scored the most points.
The 2016 graduates of United Township High School should learn that their character, their friends and how they treat others are paramount, student speakers said Sunday at their graduation ceremony at the iWireless Center.
Class valedictorian Julia Harris said these were lessons that took her a long time to learn, that her father taught her early in high school -- "being a good friend, treating others with care and compassion."
"My dad is one of the most caring, thoughtful and intelligent human beings I've ever met," she said. "Witnessing the way my father treats other people and how they adore him inspired me."
"There's such a difference in the feeling I get when someone compliments my character versus when someone compliments my grades," Ms. Harris said, noting game results and popularity are not important. "People won't remember the 98 you got on your AP bio test, but they'll always remember the times you made them feel important and treated them with respect.
"We will all remember the great times we had together," she said. Ms. Harris also thanked a foreign-exchange student at the school for changing her life, and her mother "for being the most selfless person I know."
Opening her speech by thanking "Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, without whom I would not be where I am today," Ms. Harris drew big applause from the crowd.
Adam Lack, salutatorian, noted UT accomplishments in athletics, academics and activities such as posting high graduation rates and winning five Western Big 6 conference titles this year alone. But those alone shouldn't be students' legacy, he said.
"Greatness isn't just about the titles and awards and honors we receive," Mr. Lack said. "But instead, greatness comes from our friends, reaching out to us. Those who make it possible to make a difference in others' lives.
"Leave those with whom you cross paths with a little more happiness," he said. "Our time together in high school will not be remembered by awards, grades or popularity, but instead, by the relationships we made, the kind of person we were. These are legacies we leave for others."
Zachary Vincent, salutatorian, said he learned how to treat others and how to learn from failure. "Preparation depends on your willingness to learn from your experiences," he said.
Social media allows us to speak out often, at all hours, but "gives us the ability to say whatever we want without much accountability," Mr. Vincent said. "Too many times, I've seen people treating each other with great disrespect. The way we treat people online is a predictor of how we treat people when we're not in front of the screen."
Newton's Third Law of Motion says "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," he said, adding Oprah Winfrey explained this law also teaches "how to act with each other. Everything we do, everything we say, has a reaction, not only on others but on ourselves."
"What you put out, you will receive in return," he said. "Every time you fail, use it as a learning experience, rather than getting down on yourself for opportunities you missed. Learn from it, change your ways and go out next time and achieve it. Do not let failure keep you from achieving your goal. Failure is not absolute; it's not the end. But rather, it is a new beginning to take you on a path leading to where you want to go."
Student council president Drew Pustelnik agreed: "We learned more about ourselves, our family and friends than most of us would like to admit. But we're not done yet. High school was only four years. We have our entire lives ahead of us. Believe it or not, none of us know it all."
He advised fellow grads to watch the news, go to political rallies and keep track of what the politicians actually do; listen to your family when they give advice; take an elective in college beyond your comfort zone; and listen to new music or watch something about someone you've never heard of.
"Don't be afraid to make mistakes -- after all, asking questions and making mistakes is how we learned so much in high school," Mr. Pustelnik said.
UT board president Sue Ickes offered a tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died June 3, as a role model on how to live. "He built bridges across diversity. That is so much of what we need today."
Mr. Ali's nonjudgmental attitudes and devotion to worthy causes are examples, she said. Sunday's theme of selflessness was echoed by Ms. Ickes quoting "The Greatest," who said: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."
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The 2016 graduates of United Township High School are:
Zam Zam Abdi, Jacob Abel, Alique Abram-Drew, Areeg Adam, Saida Adjanakrou, Adjovi Afangnivo, Nickolas Allen, Alydia Alvarado, Diana Alvarado, Collin Ammerman, Jessica Amyette, Jordan Anderson, Mary Ann Anderson, Gabriel Armstrong, Isaiah Armstrong, Christine Atwater, Foster Atwood, Thee Aung, Alec Austin, Mariah Austin.
Sydney Baker, Mariana Baranda, Mohamed Bare, Jordan Barlow, Bailey Battin, Cameron Beard, Matthew Beard, Tanner Beeson, Chance Behnke, Zachary Bergland, Brittany Betcher, Dakota Beug, Devontae Blake-Sheard, Isaac Boore, Hailey Boyle, Fadilath Brahima, Masy Brandmeyer, Anna Brjezovskaia, Amanda Brown, Anthony Brown, Ashley Brown, Kirsten Brown, Sabrina Brown, Justice Brunk, Bradley Bughman, Anthony Burney.
Jacob Calsyn, Anthony Campos, Dylan Cardenas, Miguel Carlos, Eliseo Castaneda-Villalpando, Carrie Castillo, Kristal Caudillo, Kylie Cervantes, Lai Ceu, Zoe Chicoa, Abraham Chimal, Abigail Ciasto, Chakala Clark, Christopher Clark, Kristina Colburn, Torie Collis, Christopher Colunga, Logan Cook, Tyler Cornett, Danielle Coronado, Taylor Crew, Monica Cruz, Maritza Cruz-Lopez.
Allisen Daggett, Jennifer Danay, Daniel Davidson, Zachary Davila, Breonna Davis, Kyle DeBrouwer, Jacob Deem, Chyann Delles, Mikayla Denato, Brandon Descamps, Alejandro Diaz, Malasia Dixon, Jordan Doose, Jaimie Drobushevich, Brendan Duke, Ryan Duncan, Joshua Dunn, Nathan Dunsworth, Izabel Duran, Devin Durbin.
James Ehler, Ashley Eirhart, Spencer Elliott, Kolton Engle, Elizabeth Enriquez, Anthony Fauser, James Fauser, Erol Fazliu, Joseph Fiems Jr., Luis Fierros, Justin Fisher, Emiley Flores, Yolitzly Flores, Gillian Fox, Jorge Franco Jr., Dale Frederick, Joel Freeman, Taylor French, Alyssia Fuller, Ghislaine Fumey.
Cristian Gallegos, Maria Garcia, Satavia Gary, Richard Gaskins, Alleigh Gates, Ransen Geadeyan, William Gillman, Andray Golden, Dakota Golden, Ashley Gomez, Genaro Gomez, Eduardo Gonzalez, Esmeralda Gonzalez, Michaela Gordon, Abbie Graham, Autumn Graham, Ronald Graham, Annette Gravelle, Garrett Greene, Kaylee Guile.
Jacob Hageman, Jabari Hagerman, Bryce Hague, Hailee Hall, Tylin Hall, Jerrad Hammitt, Alex Harness, Jada Harris, Julia Harris, Kayla Harris, Ryan Harris, Alexander Hart, Lauren Hart, Alexander Hartman, Josephine Hartman, Tanner Hauman, Parker Hawk, Michael Henderson, Alex Hernandez, Amber Hewett, Garrett Hilburn, James Hill, Kathlyn Hill, Tyler Hill, Kayci Hines, Jeremy Hinrichs, Kristy Holman, Wyatt Holmes, Kristianna Holtsclaw, Hunter Hooks-Cook, Dustin Horton, Chelsee Howard, Alexandria Hudson, Makenzie Huston, John Hynes.
Jordan Jackson, Kane Jackson, Shayia Jackson, Hannah James, Jaelynn Jared, Hannah Jeckell, Bryant Jefferson, Zachary Jessee-Russell, Eduardo Jimenez-Salinas, Marquise Johnson, Taylor Johnson, Demonte Jones, Windom Jones.
Anpreet Kaur, Aaron Kelley, Kylie Kelley, Tanner Kennedy, William Kirk, Marissa Kletke, Jonathan Knapp, Vincent Kongkousonh, Yasmin Korner, Morgan Kyser, Adam Lack, Hannah Lawrick, Maegan Lee, Emma Lindskog Robinson, Megan Littig, Ariel Loding, David Lopez, Jorge Lopez, Taelor Lopez, LaTyla Loudermilk, Keyante Luten, Matthew Lutz, Damarea Lyle, Shelby Lynch.
Jenna MacMillan, Peter Madanat, Alyssa Maddox, Trent Mahalla, Antaru Mama, Hope Markin, Megan Markin, Javier Marquez-Carlos, Dakari Mars, Devin Martel, Dominic Martin, Tyler Martin, Ana Martinez, Melissa Martinez, Oscar Martinez, Abraham Martinez Jasso, Tyler Matheny, Taylor May, Briana McCracken, Kobe McCraw-Adams, Shayla McDanel.
Kassidy McElroy-Porter, Samuel McGehee, Micheala McGrath, Brady McGuire, Damon McGuirk, Jake McIntosh, Julia McLean, Gavin McLeod, Tyler McNeal, Sierrah Meadors, Monica Medina, Jacob Meeske, Adriana Mendoza, Alexa Meraz, Amanda Miller, Cody Miller, Maxwell Molina, Grwuaslly Monarrez-Perez, El Moo, Bradley Moon, Esteban Mora-Velez, Samantha Moreno, Melissa Morris, Dillon Mowder, Justyn Mudd, Faisal Muglang, Lesly Muniz, Miguel Munoz, Stephanie Murillo, Aubrey Murphy, Jacob Murphy, DeMarco Myers.
Brady Navejas, Gabriella Nelson, Mackenzie Nelson, Ahlee Nettles, Jonathan Nevarez, Leean Nightingale, Eliseo Noriega, Ronnie Norin, Isaiah Ochoa, Jennifer Ogden, Zachary Ogden, Hannah Ortiz.
Wisdom Padonou Fidegnou, Ashley Pappas, Rachel Pappas, Daniela Pardo, Austin Paxton, Zachariah Pearson, Brook Peckenpaugh, Kristian Pedersen, Jacob Pena, Laura Perry, Hayley Person, Aubree Peterson, Abbey Petty, Ryan Pfab, Isabelle Plumb, Cameron Poppe, Timothy Pruett, Drew Pustelnik.
Patrick Quimby, Emilee Rains, Felipe Ramirez Jr., Ashley Ramos, Auriana Ramos, Luis-Angel Rangel, William Raun, Martin Rea Jr., Autumn Reeves, Keenan Reeves-Coleman, Amity Reyes, Latham Reynolds, Kyle Riege, Austin Riley, Kelsey Ringier, Tyler Roach, Samuel Roberson, Nickolas Roberts, Emily Robinson, Fredrick Robinson, Kirsten Robinson, Shyette Robinson, Yasmeen Rodriguez, Zayne Rodts, Karina Rojo, Isela Rosas, Darion Ross, Deja Rozier, Alizabeth Rubalcava, John Rule Jr., Alexis Russell, Destiny Rutledge.
Ricardo Saguilan, Juan Salinas, Ariana Sanchez-Pichardo, Jose Sanchez, Marisa Sandoval, Austin Santucci, Boby Saputra, Kailin Saucedo, Alan Schild, Brandel Schoepfer, Montana Schriner, Giovanny Segovia, Emily Serra, Madison Severtsgaard, Trevor Seyller, Skylar Shackleford, Abdelrahman Shamarden, Shelby Shappard, DaRavion Shelton.
Cheyenne Sherfey, Clara Sierra, Taylor Simmon, Shaelyn Simmons, Brayden Slagel, Broderick Smith, David Smith, Marshelle Smith, Roger Smith, Shannon Smith, Quinn Solis, Promise Solo, Cleopatra Solomon, Mario Sotelo, Tyler Spolarich, Hunter Springer, Tyler Stark, Caitlyn Stern, Autumn Stoedter, Haylee Stone, Cody Suhr, Johnny Surratt.
Taylor Taghon, Mateo Tapia, Ayele Teko, Morgan Terry, Bawi Thluai, Elizabeth Thompson, James Thompson, Paul Thorngren, Alek Tietz, Summer Toney, Christina Toney-Houdyshell, Terina Torrance, Alex Tyson, Brandon Valladares, Sanjuana Valtierra, Abigale VanWinkle, Guadalupe Vargas, Ian Velez Gutierrez, Anastasia Veloz, Aubrieanna Venegas, Justin Verlinden, Litzy Villazana-Cisneros, Zachary Vincent, Jensen Vrieswyk.
Shawquan Walker, Samuel Wamsley, Sydney Wash, Devin Wessels, Ja'ela Westbrook, Satyn Wheeler, Alexander Whitmore, Alejandro Wickersham, Patrick Wickersham Jr., Austyn Wiesman, Logan Wietting, Caitlin Willer, Brandon Williams, Linnea Willis, Alexis Wilson, Alexis J. Wilson, Lexi Wingert, Taelor Wise, Anne Wittbecker, Tyvan Workheiser, Jacob Wright, Cecilio Xique, Guadalupe Xique Perez, Katerina Zantow, Gabriela Zenteno and Willie Zhang.