Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Tassels turned

Class of 2005 celebrates graduation milestone

May 26, 2005

Soon their lives will be changed by college, careers and family. But for the Eudora High School class of 2005, Sunday's graduation ceremonies were about celebrating their history and anticipating what's next.

Besides a dramatic interruption from an audience member during the keynote speech and technical problems with the seniors' photo slideshow, the event went off without a hitch.

The afternoon began with a baccalaureate offered by the Eudora Ministerial Alliance, a group of leaders from Eudora churches.

The Rev. Lisa Gardner invited two students to the stage to fill their arms with books, college brochures and tools they might use in future careers.

She continued to add to the pile until neither student could hold any more.

Gardner's lesson aimed to show graduates that there would be a lot of things to take up their time and interest, but she encouraged them to prioritize and to include God in their lives.

"She had a really good message," said graduate Tyler Hartpence. "I really liked when she was talking about how people have been asking us questions and asking us to do stuff our whole lives. Now it's our turn to just go out and do it."

Graduate Cecilia Stumpff said she was glad to have participated in baccalaureate and was impressed by the message of the occasion.

"It was just really creative how she showed what our different choices are and what roads to go down," Stumpff said.

The graduates and the audience also participated in a religious reading, reflecting on childhood and looking forward to what the graduates would do with the rest of their lives.

Seats in the gymnasium filled up quickly for graduation ceremonies when family and friends gathered to witness more than 80 graduates receiving their diplomas.

Because of technical problems, a slideshow presentation of baby photos and senior photos of each of the graduates, which was planned for the beginning of the ceremony, was postponed until the end. This put the afternoon's keynote speaker, Patrick Everley, in the spotlight a little sooner than planned.

Everley is a 1997 graduate of Eudora High School. He was a valedictorian of his class and lettered in several sports during high school. After high school he attended Kansas University and graduated with honors in 2001. His studies have taken him to Harvard University to perform cancer research.

Everley chose to highlight some of the main characteristics of cancer and the questions that researchers were trying to answer. But as Everley appeared to be wrapping up his thoughts on cancer research, his speech was interrupted by an unidentified audience member.

"Excuse me. I'm here to celebrate. I don't want to hear about cancer," she said loudly from a bleacher seat halfway down the court.

Everley recovered from the outburst and received a standing ovation and loud applause from the graduates and the audience.

"I think the highlight was when our entire senior class gave Patrick Everley a standing ovation," Hartpence said. "We all just thought it was really, really, really rude what that lady did when she stood up and interrupted Patrick while he was giving his speech . . . We just decided we would show everybody that we appreciated what he was doing."

Everley's comments were followed by speeches from the 2005 valedictorians, James Coffman, Frank Male and Stumpff.

Stumpff said she was proud to represent her class on stage.

"It was a really big honor and I was really nervous, but I am glad I got to do it," she said.

Stumpff said the highlight of her day was throwing her cap at the end of graduation and celebrating with her friends.

"I can't believe we made it and I love being with all my friends," she said.

Stumpff said she had seen a change in her senior class during the last school year, and she felt like she was part of a close-knit group.

"I think we got along really well," she said. "We just used to be in different cliques, but all of a sudden this year we're all this big group of friends. I think people just realized by the time we got to our senior year that it's not really important who your friends are as long as they are good people. They don't have to look a certain way or anything like that."

Hartpence said he had a lot of confidence in his peers from the Eudora High School class of 2005.

"We had a lot of really, really smart kids," he said. "And we had a lot of guys and girls that are going to be really successful in their lives."

Hartpence plans to attend Kansas State University to study feed and grain science with a goal of becoming a veterinarian.

Stumpff will attend Pittsburg State University Honors College to study environmental management.

The Eudora Community Learning Center had its graduation ceremony Friday. Mark Fulks, Chris Redburn and Jessica Slaughter, all of Eudora, each earned a high school diploma and were recognized for their achievements.

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