MAPLE PARK – A few years ago, the band One Direction was seemingly the biggest thing in the life of Kaneland High School senior Elizabeth Towell.
As she grew up and matured, though, she realized there was more to life than chasing after a pop boy band.
Towell was one of the student speakers at the 2017 "Senior Send Off" baccalaureate event on May 16 at Kaneland High School.
“As a freshman, One Direction was one of the most important things in my life,” Towell said. “I thought we could change the world with music, but it’s us who can end up changing the world.”
She told the crowd, which included approximately 30 seniors, that they all have the ability to change the world.
“We may not discover a cure for cancer, solve global warming or fix the bridge of the political gap that divides our nation,” she said. “But in your life, through your spirit and actions, each of you will change the thoughts, the spirit and the actions in the lives of those [you meet], and the world will be changed.”
Mario Arindaeng, student ministries pastor for Village Bible Church, said the event was a successful one that paid tribute to the dedicated work of Kaneland’s forthcoming graduates.
The event was sponsored by Village Bible Church and Lord of Life Church.
“We’ve been doing this for about 12 years now, and we couldn’t be more proud with how these events have gone,” Arindaeng said. “The kids are able to see that the big picture in life is about the relationships you have with God, and it all starts with Him dying for our sins. We don’t know what our life will be tomorrow, but we’ve been given the strength and hope to make a difference.”
The event certainly made a positive impression on the attendees.
"The student testimonies, special music – led by the several of the students – and the baccalaureate address from the guest speaker were very inspirational,” said Brenda Johnson, whose daughter Erica is graduating this spring. “We also enjoyed watching the slide presentation of the graduates’ baby pictures with their senior pictures to reflect on their personal growth. It was a very meaningful experience for our graduating student, Erica Johnson, and for our family and friends that attended."
Sugar Grove resident Carrie Guerra was in attendance to support her daughter Lexie.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Guerra said.” It was very nice. It was a bit of a religious ceremony, which we didn’t mind. I just wish more kids would’ve attended because it was done so nicely.”
Senior Connor O’Brien was impressed hearing some of his fellow classmates speak.
“I liked the fact that a couple students shared their stories, along with the guest speaker at the end of it,” O’Brien said. “I was happy to be able to attend.”
Bob Barnhart has attended a few of these events, but this one was especially emotional since his youngest child, Natalie, was set to graduate on May 21.
“It’s always nice to see that spiritual side that this event provides,” he said. “It gives a nice perspective about your faith, especially when times get tough."