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Beloit Memorial High School Launches 433 to the Next Level

 Graduation ceremonies, by definition, are the end of something.

For Micah Aguilar, and most of the 433 Beloit Memorial High School seniors who received their diplomas on Saturday, it is a launching pad.

“My life starts when I start my career and that will be when I join the (United States) Marines,” Aguilar said before the ceremony.

For those who choose to take advantage, high school has many paths. It could be the arts, athletics or academics. For some, it’s a mix of all three. For Aguilar, he found himself through the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

“It just showed me how to be the best citizen and serve the community,” Aguilar said. “I also found out that there were a lot of like-minded kids in my high school.”

Beloit Memorial has had a JROTC program for 104 years. It is the oldest in the state and continues to teach health, wellness, fitness and leadership. This year, there were 135 students in the program.

Aguilar’s two closest friends, Jordan Martinez and Dawson Pippen, are joining the Marines as well.

“As long as I’ve got them, I’ll be fine,” Aguilar said.

Of course, every senior on Saturday had a story to tell. Andrea Sala said she dreaded high school, worrying that it would be a “cliche-driven movie” where she never fit in. She ended up as senior class president and was one of Saturday’s two student speakers.

School District of Beloit Superintendent Willie Garrison II gave a rousing speech, reminding the Class of 2024 that they started their careers sitting at home, attending school through the computer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They persevered to earn diplomas and academic honors. He then told the graduates that even though they will now go their separate ways, they will always be connected.

He compared the class of 2024 to Redwood trees. He noted that the roots of these massive Redwoods don’t go very deep into the ground, but they do extend outward, creating a vast network, binding the soil together.

“You are now connected to the Purple Knight community,” Garrison said. “That’s an amazing space.”

Source: Beloit Daily News