Hats off to you, Tonganoxie and McLouth graduates

May 21, 2015

With some 145 students in the Class of 2015 looking on Saturday in the THS gymnasium, THS principal Mark Farrar recalled his high school graduation in 1993 and his mother telling him of her 25-year class reunion at the time.

“Holycow! That’s an eternity,” Farrar told the class, explaining his reaction at the time.

He went on to tell of his mother reminding him to “soak it in, Mark.”

“Guess what,” Farrar said. “I blinked and now I’m here.”

The THS principal went on to tell the Class of 2015 that it should picture each day has a bank account into which $86,400 are deposited. The money can be spent as one wishes each day, but there’s no carryover to another day or another month. It’s up to each person how to spend that money each day.

He then went on to say that there are 86,400 seconds in a day and that how we decide to “spend” that time each day is precious.

Saturday’s THS commencement exercises opened with Lauren Harrell giving the welcome. The Senior Ensemble and Chieftain Singers performed two songs, including the traditional “Maybe Someday” before Farrar recognized National Honor Society members and 4.0 students.

This year’s salutatorians, Garrett French, Lauren Harrell and Elisabeth Laundy, received gifts for accomplishment and were recognized on stage.

Grace Reilly was Tonganoxie’s 2015 valedictorian.

Reilly opened her speech with a “good morning!” at the Saturday evening graduation.

She said that’s kind of been ingrained into her brain and, she was sure, in the mind’s of her classmates. That was former THS principal Jamie Carlisle’s standard greeting no matter the time of day.

Reilly said it was a “huge honor” to be named valedictorian, but said family and friends, as well as THS teachers and administrators helped make it possible.

The valedictorian admitted that she was nervous in a public speaking role and recalled a class a few years ago.

“Even though I took that required public speaking course when I was a freshman like most of the rest of my fellow graduates did, making brownies in front of 15 other confused freshman isn’t quite the same as speaking to a crowd of several hundred people,” Reilly said. “So please bear with me in the event that this speech crashes and burns because it very well could.”

Reilly, who will begin classes in a few months at Kansas State University, is planning to take pre-med classes and major in biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. She reminisced about her time in school with her classmates — 5,040 hours to be exact — while also hoping that bigger and better experiences await the Class of 2015.

In all of these experiences, we’ve also built lifelong friendships that we will remember for far longer than we remember how to factor a quadratic equation,” Reilly said. “Sorry about that, math department.”

In closing, she said this year’s graduates would build on the strong foundation THS has provided to help accomplish great things in the years to come.

“Tonight is only the beginning for the Tonganoxie High School graduating class of 2015,” she said.

The ceremony concluded with the awarding of diplomas.

Some students handed Farrar coins to help with the district’s budget issues, while Colten Weaver managed to take a selfie with Farrar. Callie Grinter made it across the stage on crutches with her mother, school board member Kris Grinter, greeting her with a diploma. In the process, Callie’s mortar board fell off, but she eventually made it down from the stage in a bit of comic relief.

The ceremony ended with graduates flinging their caps in the air and celebrating their accomplishment with family and friends.

MHS celebrates grads

McLouth High School had its graduation Saturday morning in its main gymnasium.

MHS had 44 students in the Class of 2015 graduate.

Co-valedictorians were Jacob Bowman, Emma Evans, Faith Schmalstieg, Meghan Jackson, Sarah Miller, Travis Riley and Emily Hoffhines.

High school teacher and coach David Boucher, who is leaving McLouth for another position, was selected to be the guest speaker. Boucher gave an emotional speech as he also bid MHS goodbye.

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