Archive for Wednesday, May 19, 2004

THS bids farewell to seniors

124 grads receive diplomas

May 19, 2004

Another version of "Friends" ended its 13-year run Saturday in Tonganoxie.

Instead of on NBC, it was at THS.

At Beatty Field on a crisp May evening, 124 Tonganoxie students bid farewell to the halls of THS and received their diplomas.

In his welcome address, student council president Tim Leffert compared the Class of 2004 to "Friends," the long-running sitcom that completed its series finale two weeks ago.

Leffert admitted that this year's senior class didn't have a Ross, Joey or Chandler. It also didn't have a Phoebe, Rachel, Monica or the annoying Janice.

"But we did have Michelle, Katie, Jennifer and some annoying people," Leffert said.

As did the cast of "Friends," Leffert said Tonganoxie seniors shared plenty of laughs and tears.

Leffert later reminisced about experiences in various grades.

"I remember in the third grade Amanda Chenoweth talking for the first time," Leffert said. "I don't think she stopped talking since."

Now, this class of friends forever moves onto its next step, whether that is college or a career. Leffert urged his classmates never to waste a moment and to "enjoy your time spent on earth."

"Don't squander time," Leffert said. "You might miss an episode."

Song followed Leffert's welcoming address as a senior ensemble sang "Time of Your Life" by Green Day. With Michael Stephenson providing guitar and vocals, Joel Nido, Christopher Smith, Erin Holton, Heather Melchior and Lindsay Davidson accompanied Stephenson in singing the popular song.

The Chieftain Singers followed the senior tribute with "Maybe Someday." And the THS band provided songs before the ceremony, from "Zoot Suit Riot" and "Tubthumping" to "You'll be in My Heart" and "Circle of Life" before playing the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance."

Kaitlyn Kelly was recognized as valedictorian and Chase Nowak salutatorian.

In her valedictory address, Kelly told her classmates life was not a marathon.

"It's more of a wheelbarrow race," Kelly said. "Somebody has to be there to push us."

Kelly later urged her classmates to make new friends and pursue goals, whether that be learning to sky-dive or starting a petition to run for office.

Quite simply, Kelly said "carpe diem," Latin for seize the moment.

Principal Mike Bogart announced that this year's class set a record for outside scholarships and awards. Students accumulated more than $617,000 in scholarships.

Bogart, who announced his retirement earlier this year, had a scholarship given in his name. Tara Kemp was awarded the first Mike Bogart Award.

"In a sense, Mr. Bogart is graduating as well," Leffert said.

Tonganoxie's four foreign exchange students -- Enrique Gallion, Karolin Beyer, Corinna Brunner and Tim Yam -- also were recognized Saturday.

Bogart asked the students what they enjoyed most about the United States. "The people," Brunner replied, words that earned a loud ovation from the audience.

Last on the commencement program was the most important -- the awarding of diplomas.

Before Bogart stepped to the podium to read off the list of graduates, Superintendent Richard Erickson told the senior class he was excited about their futures.

"I look forward to hearing great things and reading great things from the Class of 2004," Erickson said.

As seniors approached the stage, they were greeted with cheers and silly string, but mostly silly string. Luke McCarty headed to the stage and received a shower of string.

Family and friends used small kazoos, air horns and the conventional applause and cheers to support their graduates.

Aubrey Koontz even received a drum solo, courtesy of brother Andy, who is a drummer in the THS band.

After the ceremony, supporters congregated on the stadium track to congratulate the graduates.

But the celebration wasn't finished. Seniors headed to the junior high for Project Grad festivities, which lasted throughout the evening into the early morning.

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