Rebel pride abounds at first TF South Senior Signing Day

by Jamilyn Hiskes

LANSING, Ill. (May 11, 2019) – Bright futures and smiles shone in TF South High School’s Red Gym on the first ever Senior Signing Day, May 8.

The event was created to celebrate the accomplishments of graduating seniors by giving them an opportunity to announce to their peers where they’ll be attending college after graduation.

John O’Rourke, the Asst. Principal for Pupil Personnel Services, is one of the minds behind this event. He said the idea came about last summer following the Class of 2018’s graduation.

Asst. Principal John O’Rourke was one of the minds behind Signing Day and conducted the event. (Photo: James Neely)

“[My secretary’s] kids had a signing day at their school,” O’Rourke said. “We started talking about [having one at TF South], and a brief discussion led to a longer discussion. …It was an idea that turned into a theory, and now it can be expected every year. We wanted to celebrate our seniors, and I think this is a cool way to do it.”

The event was attended by hundreds of TF South students and a few representatives from colleges and universities. Those in the bleachers got to watch and cheer as more than 100 graduating seniors announced their choice of college or military service from a pulpit. Once they’d spoken, each student was then given a sharpie marker to sign their name on posters labeled “COLLEGE BOUND” and “ARMED FORCES.” Six students who participated in the event declared they would be enlisting in the military after graduation.

Principal Jacob Gourley said he enjoyed seeing the variety of schools and degrees the senior class will be pursuing.

“I think it’s impressive just how far-spread they’re going to be,” Gourley. “I’m proud of them. I think this signing day will be the first of many.”

Following the college announcements, students were given a congratulatory certificate and photographed in front of a TF South-branded backdrop. There was also a series of raffles in which extra graduation tickets, gift cards to local businesses, and 15 “college starter kits” were handed out to students with winning tickets.

TF South’s first Senior Signing Day saw packed bleachers and many happy graduating seniors. (Photo: James Neely)

The highest praise given during the event was a new scholarship awarded to five seniors called the “Resilient Rebel” award, which was funded by an anonymous donor from Los Angeles.

“The Resilient Rebel is an individual who has demonstrated perseverance, overcome obstacles, maintained academic excellence, and demonstrated unwavering pride and passion to maintain success,” O’Rourke said while introducing the award. “We are honored to present the Resilient Rebel to five students who are truly deserving of this award.”

The students who received the awards were Patrice Cage, Chioma Ezechukwu, Lucille LaMar, Cornelius Muwanga and Trinity Wilson. They were congratulated by the TF South principals and their guidance counselors, then photographed with their certificates.

Gourley said the emotions in the gym during the event were proud, but bittersweet.

“I’m happy to see them go out into the world,” he said. “You build a good relationship with these students after four years. But all good things must come to an end, I guess.”

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