Niles West Graduates Go Forth

They streamed into their commencement ceremony in red and white gowns, and left clutching diplomas.


With speeches, thunderous applause, music and good wishes, 's Class of 2012 culminated its four years in a commencement ceremony Wednesday.

The graduates marched in, young men in red gowns and young women in white gowns, as the Niles West Orchestra played "Pomp and Circumstance."

As the ceremony began, principal Kaine Osburn told the grads, "I will not wish you happiness."


He wished them many other things, including that they treat others with respect, confront racism and speak out against prejudice.

"What I wish for you is a life of virtue...a life of virtuous activity," he said, explaining Aristotle believed one experienced happiness when engaged in virtuous activity.

"I know that virtue lives in each of you," he concluded.

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Salutatorian Akshar Kumar told his fellow grads to think about all the people, including parents and teachers, who supported them to help them get to this day. 

Michael Nissan, the valedictorian, spoke about learning for the sake of learning. He mentioned two famous mathematicians who accomplished a body of work that for them was pure learning; it had no practical application in their lifetimes. In modern times, however, it has been used in computers and encryption, he said, suggesting that grads may work on things whose time will come in the future. 

Dr. Nanciann Gatta, the superintendent of Niles Township High School District 219, told the graduates, "You are graduating from one of the most vibrant educational communities in the world." 

They've had a richer experience than most high school graduates, she told them, because of the school's tremendous diversity.

The name of one of the grads' classmates, Nathan Palma, who died last October, was mentioned several times, and students cheered when his older brother Patrick Palma, carrying Nathan's portrait, accepted his diploma on his behalf.

Students filed onstage as their names were called and accepted their diplomas, then met their families for hugs, photos and congratulations.

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