ROCKFORD — Almost 40 years after graduating from Keith Country Day School, critically acclaimed television writer Shawn Ryan still remembers the disappointment he felt when English teacher Marie Johnson told him given a B-minus on a try during Ryan’s freshman year.
“When I told her about the note, she told me she thought I was capable of doing a lot better than what I delivered on the page,” Ryan said. “I will be eternally grateful to her because she taught me to push myself beyond what I thought I was capable of.”
Ryan, the Los Angeles-based author of such shows including “The Shield,” “SWAT” and “Timeless,” was the keynote speaker at Keith’s 49th Annual Kickoff Friday at Rockford University.
He urged senior graduates to engage with people with different political and philosophical views.
“Personally, I can’t think of anything more boring than being in a room with 10 people who think exactly like me,” Ryan said. “Don’t allow yourself to exist in a silo of ignorance and conformity of thought. State your point of view and challenge the things you vehemently disagree with, but always remember the other person’s humanity.
After:Writer, Producer and Keith Alumnus Creates Ryan Family Scholarship
Ryan and his family support the school through the Ryan Family Theater, which allows students to showcase their talents, and the Ryan Family Scholarships, which provide free tuition to six middle and high school students each year for the entire the length of their stay in Keith.
“I’m not here to tell you that the next stage of your life will be easy,” Ryan told Keith’s graduates. “There will be times when you will be tempted to give up on your dreams. Believe it or not, those times are a gift because they provide an opportunity to learn what you are truly made of. At those times, if you really look deep, you will find a courage and a conviction that you did not know you were capable of.
Keith County Day School enrollment is approximately 200 K-12 students.
This year’s class of seven graduates won $2.8 million in merit-based scholarships to support their continuing education.
Daniel Garcia Laya is an exchange student from Madrid, Spain, and spent his final year studying at Keith.
“It was the best year of my life,” said Garcia Laya. “I enjoyed the time spent with my friends and teachers. It was completely different from where I came from. »
Garcia Laya plans to study international business and finance at the International University of Madrid.
After:Keith celebrates his 50th birthday with Foreign Languages Department Chair Sherrilyn Martin
Friday’s graduation was especially meaningful for Keith’s teachers and administrators, including the school’s co-principal, Charo Chaney.
“What gives me hope in these difficult times is you, the class of 2022,” Chaney told the seniors gathered on stage. “You are the most persistent, focused (and) tenacious group of individuals I have ever encountered, and then I am reminded of the possibilities of what our future holds.”