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Laura Schultes
Rolfe, Iowa

(Editor's note: Laura is a 2001 graduate of the Pocahontas Area Community Schools and was one of three seniors to speak at the PACS commencement exercises on May 20, 2001. Her parents are Carmella and Ken Schultes. The following is the text she sent us from her talk.)

When I was asked to present a speech today, I was at a loss of what to talk about. Sure, there were lots of topics I could have chosen: our achievements, but those are well known and documented already; our character, but we have been dwelling on our character for 12 years; our memories, but memories are inconsequential to those who havenít made them. In the end, I did what I usually do when I struggle with an assignment ó I went home and asked Mom and Dad. And like they usually do, my parents came through for me. They fed me with ideas and suggestions and then turned me loose to do my own writing. So, hereís what I came up with.

About a year ago, my parents bought the book entitled Who Moved My Cheese? One boring summer day, I picked up the thin book and read it ó for lack of anything better to do. The plot line was simple, but the message was important and pointed.

The short parable was a story about adapting to change. It focused on four characters ó two mice and two people, all who lived in a maze and were set in a routine way of life. Everyday, the characters performed their daily rituals that included a trip to the cheese, their food source, which was routinely provided for them and which they routinely sought day in and day out. The real message came across when that routine way of life changed: when their cheese got moved. The story then shifted to explain how the characters adapted to that change.

Iím not here before you today to give you a book report. Iím not going to tell you how to adapt to change, nor how the characters in the book adapted to change. I am here to tell you today, as many people have in the past, that change happens and adaptation has to happen with it. We live in a changing world and as the Class of 2001, we are about to enter that world ó are we prepared for it?

Next fall my third grade sister will be among the first elementary Rolfe students to be bussed to Pocahontas for school. Itís a change that has met with opposition and conflict but a change that will likely afford her opportunities that she may not otherwise realize. Ten years ago, this school system allowed all of us the opportunity to flourish by consolidation. If Pocahontas and Rolfe had not consolidated, many of us would not have had the opportunity to take upper level classes, get college credit in high school, attend class in a first class tech lab, participate in state qualifying sports, music, and speech programs, and be a part of a National Champion Mock Trial Team. The decisions that the administration has made when they embraced changes have not been easy. Many times they have met with opposition, and many times they have had to throw their plans out the window and start over. But with progressive thinking, foresight, and energy the administration has overcame the opposition and has embraced the changes that have been best for the school ó changes that have allowed students opportunities not previously dreamed of.

As we walk out of this gymnasium today, it is inevitable that things will change. We have lived in Pocahontas County for most of our lives; most of us are going to leave this community in a few months. We have been under parental control for eighteen years; next fall we will be under our own control. Our parents have always made decisions for us whether it was what we wore when we were five or what time we had to be home Friday night when we were sixteen. Now we will start to make our own decisions about our future. Some of the changes that our future holds are unpredictable.

Are we ready to take this next step and enter the changing world on our own? Do we know what we have to do to be ready for change? I have great confidence in the Class of 2001. I believe that the school in its own example of adapting to social and demographic changes and showing it cannot only survive but flourish has prepared us to do the same. I believe we will surround ourselves with people that recognize change as opportunity and soar with it rather than surround ourselves with people who drag us down and resist change.

As we enter into a new chapter of our lives, changes will occur. We may transfer from one college to another, move across the country when our job changes, learn new skills, meet new people, and experience new things. As these changes occur, I believe we will move to opportunity even if it means taking the rough course rather than being content to take the easy route to avoid change. And I believe that when we encounter the inevitable changes of our futures, we face will face them head on and embrace them knowing that with change comes progress. For eighteen years, we have been preparing for tomorrow and when tomorrow comes we, as the Class of 2001, will be ready for it.


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