100th class graduates Saturday from THS
Members of Tonganoxie's Class of 2000 couldn't have asked for a more beautiful night to say thank you and goodbye.
The weather was picturesque as family and friends of graduates packed onto the bleachers at Beatty Field. As the Tonganoxie High School band played "Pomp and Circumstance," the class the young women in white caps and gowns and the young men in red walked in single file to chairs set up on the track. Parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers strained to catch a glimpse of particular graduates, and, perhaps, to capture the moment on film.
Teachers, wearing their college's regalia and black gowns, sat behind the class members.
All had gathered to witness the long-awaited high school graduation of the 114-member class.
School officials honored members of the class who had won scholarships and awards. And THS teacher John Barnes was announced the winner of a student-voted $250 award.
"To our knowledge, that is the highest amount of scholarships any graduating class has ever received, and I can believe it about this group of young people," said Mike Bogart, high school principal.
And seven members of the graduating class, all valedictorians, addressed the crowd, reminiscing about their days, weeks and years in Tonganoxie schools.
"I have learned a lesson from each and every experience," Sarah Gripka, one of the valedictorians said.
Marcy Dodge said she cherished memories of school days.
"They will always stay fresh in my mind," she said.
The five young women and two young men also took close looks at their futures and at the futures of their classmates.
"We cannot possibly settle for what we are because we can be so much more," Jessica Sturgeon said. '' We are on our way to achieving our dreams."
Wendy Altman read a poem about life that sounded as if it were specially made for the occasion. And Brett Becker urged his classmates to construct their lives wisely.
"Work like you don't need the money; love like you've never been hurt; and dance like nobody's watching," he said, closing his talk to the class.
Neil Reiger told his classmates that high school graduation reminded him of the get-acquainted tour they took of the junior high school when they were in sixth grade. They were amazed, he said, that junior high students were talking loudly and not walking in a straight line.
"I see that same feeling now coming out in all of us," he said.
And Angela Folsom imparted this piece of advice: "You are priceless. Be yourself. Live the life you want to live."
As the valedictorians talked, the sun set behind the bleachers at Beatty Field. And then it was time to become alumni of Tonganoxie High School, the 100th class to do so.
As members of the Class of 2000 strode across the stage, their classmates, families, friends and teachers applauded them and flashed photographs. And once Kelley Workman made the walk, the class erupted in a series of cheers and a maze of silly string.
They had graduated.