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  • David A.F. Sweet

‘This Pandemic Will Forever Be Part of Your Story’

Justin Engelland, president of the Lake Forest Elementary School District 67 Board of Education, made the remarks below during the Deer Path Middle School Eighth-Grade Graduation on June 1.

Good evening to our DPM graduates and their families and to our District 67 teachers, staff and administrators.

And special thanks to the Eighth-Grade Chorus.

Ashley Yakes holds her diploma after graduating from Deer Path Middle School.

You chose the perfect song for the Class of 2021 — and for all of us, really.

Five-hundred-twenty-five-thousand-six-hundred minutes.

How do we measure our pandemic year?

When all is said and done, how will we think about this time?

Whether we look back on this year for what we lost or what we gained is a choice.

For our eighth-grade graduates, this pandemic will forever be part of your story.

It should not define your middle school years, but it will certainly be a memorable last chapter as you head off to high school.

And what will be your key takeaway?

I hope, among others, it is resilience.

While you have worked so hard this year to deliver academically, you have also learned how to press on...

...How to adjust and adapt...

...And how to show up and bring your best — even when the circumstances are difficult or not what you expected.

Somewhere down the line...

...In high college...when you start your career...and beyond…

You will call upon the resilience you learned during this once-in-a-lifetime year.

You will know how to help yourself and others dig deep in the face of adversity,

Because you will remember that you did it successfully before — back in seventh and in eighth grade at DPM.

You have accomplished so much — not only through your own resilience, but through the tireless support of your parents, guardians, teachers and staff.

And while there have been differing opinions along the way, one thing has been unwavering…

The deep devotion that our Lake Forest community has for our children.

It is said that a crisis does not create character.

It reveals it.

Across our school community during our pandemic year,

Every conversation...

Every debate…

Every decision...was rooted in care for your well-being and anchored in love.

We often talk about the many things that differentiate our District 67 schools, but the love and support of this community is the most powerful.


As you prepare to move on to high school,

As you transform from the Deer Path Middle School Class of 2021, to the Lake Forest High School Class of 2025,

We know you are ready.

This year has shown us that.

We celebrate your ability — and your resilience.

And we send you off with the community’s most valuable asset — our love.

On behalf of your District 67 Board of Education, administration, teachers, staff, and your community,

Congratulations with all our love to the DPM Class of 2021!


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