PORTAGE | Portage High School co-valedictorian Cody Spoolstra admitted when it came to writing his speech for commencement, he had a problem with procrastination.
The 2013 graduate told his fellow classmates at Sunday's ceremony he eventually had a change of attitude from “something I have to do, to something I get to do,” which helped him complete the speech.
“Life is all about perspective, and having a positive outlook makes all the difference,” Spoolstra said. “Go forth with positivity. Remember to put good into the world and the world will put good back into you.”
Spoolstra shares the top of the class with Tyler Demko, who also spoke to the graduates, their families and friends gathered in the school's football stadium.
Demko said the time spent at Portage High School was filled with both highs and lows for many graduates. He described his own battle with shyness, but said his years in high school have helped him overcome it.
Demko also urged his classmates to seize the day and not take tomorrow for granted because, he said, quoting Clint Eastwood, “Tomorrow is promised to no one.”
“What lies ahead is equal parts uncertainty and potential,” Demko said.
Senior class President Collin Czilli told his peers the next challenge they face is great.
“We now have the task of bettering the world,” he said.
Czilli ended his speech by reading Mother Teresa's poem, “Do It Anyway.” He said the poem was often read by former Portage Township Schools Superintendent Michael Berta, and he wanted to honor Berta by reading it.
The poem calls on people to do good in the world despite the outcomes or reactions of others, and ends with the lines, “In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia said the Class of 2013 was tops in academics, service, arts and athletics.
The class helped Portage schools achieve a grade of A in the state and be among four school districts in Northwest Indiana to receive an A for the last three years.
Portage students have performed thousands of hours of community service, and the schools' ROTC program was recognized as the best in Midwest, Frataccia said.
In the arts, Portage is one of nine high schools in the state to receive the All-Music Award, and in athletics, both the gymnastics and softball teams brought home state championships this year.
Frataccia told graduates he was confident their futures would be bright because of their past.
“Past performance predicts future performance,” he said. “Your past performance has been exemplary, and you know it.”