Heartland Community Schools graduated 20 students on Sunday, May 7. Along with the traditional graduation ceremony, the class had two specials guests in attendance. Through connections established when the students were fourth graders, Brian Selznick, author and illustrator, and Suzanne Lloyd, granddaughter of Harold Lloyd, spoke at the graduation.
Ms. Lloyd shared about her deceased grandfather, Harold, a Nebraska native and silent film star. She described her grandfather as a well-liked man who loved Nebraska and would be thrilled that she was speaking there. Encouraging the students, she explained that they were getting a great start to their futures by being sent out of these special small communities.
Mr. Selznick, who had corresponded yearly with the class since the initial letter eight years ago, gave his commencement addressÂ as a final letter to them at Heartland. Because he had heardÂ that the high school had recently performed “Big Fish,” he included a special message from his friend Andrew Lippa, the composer of the musical. Selznick also shared about a friendship he had withÂ Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are. When Brian was still trying to get his career off the ground, Sendack had taken a gander at hisÂ books and encouraged him to create the book he most wanted to. Heeding the advice, Selznick created the bookÂ The Invention of Hugo Cabret in 2007Â which was made into a movie in 2011.
In turn, Selznick encouraged the Heartland students to also use their lives to, “Make the book you most want to make.” Through opposition or seemingly dead-ends, he encouraged them to keep going and don’t be afraid to reach out to others. A written letter from him was his connectionÂ to Maurice Sendack, and a written letter to him connected Selznick with the Heartland Class of 2017. At the end of his speech, he also opened the possibility of meeting up in another eight years to see what life adventures they are on.Â (Video clip at bottom)
*Leslie Braun (Valedictorian)
*Ethan Hall (Valedictorian)
*Mark Perez Jr.
*Ellie Steingard (Valedictorian)
MaKayla Suzanne Windle
(*Deonotes seniors with a 3.4 or above cumulative grade point average)
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