Class of 2005 celebrates graduation
Andrew Eveland dressed as if he were in the Class of 1975, rather than the Class of 2005 during Saturday's commencement exercises at Tonganoxie's Beatty Field.
Eveland, a Tonganoxie High School senior, donned a large black, curly wig under his mortar board as he walked with 117 fellow THS seniors onto the high school track.
After seeing graduates in past years decorate their mortar boards in various ways, Eveland knew he wanted to do something to stand out. He borrowed the wig, which was about two feet in height and affixed it to his mortar board.
"The whole crowd was laughing when I walked out," Eveland said.
Although Eveland's current haircut is quite short, he usually let's his hair grow out during the winter, into something of a "winter coat," as he describes it.
But he admitted it never had the fullness of the wig.
Once the ceremony started, Eveland was instructed to lose the wig. After all, people behind him would have had quite the view.
"I thought my grandpa was going to freak because he is a pretty old-fashioned guy," Eveland said.
But as his mother told Eveland, his grandfather "started cracking up when he saw it."
The wig was the senior's own touch in "decorating" his mortar board with something different.
But Eveland wasn't alone. Other seniors made fashion statements as well. Some decorated their mortar boards with writing, while others dangled fuzzy dice from their graduation hats. And of course, a THS graduation wouldn't be complete without outgoing seniors spraying silly string at one another.
Once the graduates filed in and were seated, class president Kaitie Pestock opened graduation by borrowing words from Charles Dickens.
"They were the best of times, they were the worst of times, they were our four years at THS," Pestock said.
In her address, Pestock touched on several moments the class has been a part of. She also mentioned specific times that classmates could make fellow seniors laugh -- or provide a shoulder to lean on.
"When we were stressed out about school and, well, Levi Huseman wasn't, he was there to sympathize with you," Pestock said.
In the end, Pestock noted that this year's senior class was a "unique group of people."
Some members of this year's senior class sang "Lean On Me," before fellow Chieftain Singers group members joined in later in the song. The entire group then sang "Maybe Someday."
THS Principal Tatia Shelton and Brent Smith then announced awards and introduced scholarship presenters. Shelton announced that nearly $565,000 in scholarship and award money was made available to Tonganoxie students this year. After scholarships were presented, Hunter Samuels gave his valedictorian address.
Like Pestock, Samuels made sure to mention high school stories, from when two classmates gave Valentine's Day roses to all the senior girls, to another time when a classmate ate an orange -- peel and all -- for a dollar.
Samuels later reminded his fellow classmates that it's now time to be less dependent on parents and more dependent on themselves.
"Make your own decisions, be your own person," Samuels said. "Live your own life."
Heather Deaver was recognized as this year's salutatorian, but was unable to attend because of illness.
Once this year's graduating class members accepted their diplomas from Tonganoxie school board members, silly string and mortar boards flew as the new graduates celebrated with friends and family on the Beatty Field track.
The grads then headed to the Saviour of the World Seminary on Parallel in Kansas City, Kan., for this year's Project Grad celebration.