"Even the smallest action can go a long way," she said.
She told her classmates to remember their lessons in kindness and selfless actions through special events at school, such as Kindness Week, Service Day and the Making it Cool 2 Be Kind campaign. Those acts of kindness and selfless actions, she said, would take graduates across the country and make Middleville known for “more than just McKeown sweet corn.”
Her speech to her classmates was filled with hometown humor painting a picture of the rural community.
She affectionately joked about high school Principal Tony Petersen’s instructions to students during Spirit Week. “He said, ‘Please be careful if you are driving your tractor to school tomorrow.’ Most people wouldn’t believe a school administrator would condone driving a tractor to school,” she said.
"Most of us dread the manure smells and being late to school because we got stuck behind a tractor," she said. "But this place smells and feels like home."
As a third-generation TK graduate, Cutlip said she’s proud to come from a community where there is so much support for the schools and where "every outsider is brought into the fold.” She said it’s also a place where “kids truly do come first.”
She offered classmates three pieces of advice: "One - always pass a tractor the first chance you get; two - be positive and have a positive attitude ...; three - be proud of who you are and where you come from."
And, she said, if all that fails, the class can live by its motto: "At least we tried."
High school English teacher Cary Saxton also addressed the class. She told the graduates as adults they will see good, bad and even boring times in their lives, but that they get to choose what they pay attention to and focus on in their lives.
As an English teacher, Saxton said she loves to learn new words. She found the word "pulchritudinous" and thought it was an interestingly ugly kind of word but one that actually means beauty.
She challenged the graduates to "find the beauty even in the moments that seem ugly."
She offered a quote from Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author: "You may not be able to alter reality, but you can alter your attitude towards it, and this, paradoxically, alters reality."
"You choose what defines you," she said.
Senior Adam Johanson welcomed the class and guests to the ceremony and Cass Kramer introduced Saxton. “It’s no secret we have the greatest staff here at TK,” Kramer said.
Senior class advisors Kevin Kane and Nelson Replogle read the class roll while members of the board of education handed out diplomas. Students then shook hands with retiring superintendent Tom Enslen, high school principal Tony Petersen and assistant principal Kelli Wegner.
Senior Tess Scheidel gave the closing remarks, and Sam Ogrodzinski led the seniors in the tassel ceremony, followed by the traditional throwing of caps and the symphonic band playing the school fight song for the seniors one last time.