FCHS graduates 52 Sunday
By Molly Chapple
The Falls City High School Class of 2014 celebrated graduation Sunday afternoon at the Prichard Auditorium. As friends and family watched on, the graduating class of 52 students entered the Auditorium to “Fanfare and Processional”, played by the Falls City High School band.
The commencement exercise, as it has since 2011, featured the Cum Laude system and didn’t consist of either Salutatorian or Valedictorian addresses. Instead, five graduates – Reese Hogue, Kirstyn Buchholz, Anne Gifford, Madison Olberding and Brooke Scheitel – gave speeches in front of their fellow classmates.
The nine students graduating Summa Cum Laude, (with the highest distinction) were: Kirstyn Jade Buchholz, Tyler Edward DiGiacomo, Karlene Rae Embretson, Mitchell James Harling, Reese Allen Hogue, Madison Mae Olberding, Brittany Leeann Ritter, Cody Daniel Schawang and Brooke Marie Scheitel.
Graduating with high academic distinction as Magna Cum Laude, were: Haley Dawn Cochran, Anne Elizabeth Gifford and Emily Fuji Wilhide.
Graduating with academic distinction as Cum Laude, were: Anastasia Helena Leigh Finner, Allyson Mae Scholl, Mahlory May Vice and Emily Ann Weaver.
The remainder of the FCHS Class of 2014: Carl Jacob Arnold, Ariel Cathryn Barnett, Taylor Jean Blair, Clayton Robert Burge, Brittany Nicole Butrick, Anisa Nicole Carter, Allen Christopher Chesson, Christopher Michael Coonce, Brenden D. Cooper, Lucas Anthony Curl, Payshince Raynae Dawkins, Justin Hans Doerr, Cedric Otto Fritz, Jacob Christopher Gill, Robert C.J. Hall, Devin Wayne Handley;
Cheyenne Nicole Henderson, Levi Allen Hitchcock, Chance Patrick Huppert, Amanda Ruth Joy, Waylon Bryar Knapp, Trevor Matthew Marrs, Jacob Kyle Mez, Ryan Thomas Mount, Janeen Akea Moyer, Alexander Olsen, Della Mae Peek, Alaina Catherine Pelletier, Derick William Pounds, Jesse James Raney, Katelynn Michelle Riley, Emily Michelle Scribner, Hayley Golden Sweetwater, Chase Patrick Thompson, Nina Marie Travis, Brittany Kay White, David Jacob Winters and Miranda Lynn Zimmerman.
As a whole, the class was offered $1.28 million in scholarships. The graduates wore grey and white Brain Cancer Awareness Ribbons in remembrance of their fellow classmate, Darius Schulenberg.
The ceremony began with a prayer, led by Cody Schawang. School Supt. Tim Heckenlively gave the welcome address and reminisced on the class’ first day of kindergarten. Heckenlively was North School Principal when this class arrived for its first day 13 years ago.
“For many of you, I had the opportunity to welcome you on your first day of school, and watch you develop into fine young men and women who will graduate today, and complete a major milestone in your lives,” Heckenlively said.
He also offered the class five pieces of advice to keep in mind, including: “Your life plan probably won’t go according to plan, and that’s OK. Success is about enjoying what you do. As you determine your future career path, figure out what it is you love to do, and do it, and it will never be work. Your friend groups will evolve just like you will – embrace the change. Your interests will also continue to change. Let them. Some of your most difficult days lie ahead…But so do some of your happiest ones.” Heckenlively ended his speech saying, “…I would like to thank you as a class for your leadership, your commitment to excellence, and challenge each of you to use your education to maximize your potential in the future.”
Principal Gale Dunkhas then introduced Reese Hogue as the first speaker. Hogue pointed out the accomplishments of his class, noting leadership in the classroom, sporting venue, and community, being mentors for younger students and creating bonds with fellow classmates. “Time is precious and how we choose to spend it, save it or even waste it can lead to missed opportunities, or lack of accomplishments, or better yet productivity…,” Hogue stated.
Hogue also honored his former classmate by stating, “…I would like to remember one of our classmates – Darius Schulenberg – whose life was too short, taken from us too early, and left some of us with cherished memories. So on behalf of myself, your fellow classmates, former teachers, and his parents and family…we honor you today Darius…”
The second speaker, Kirstyn Buchholz, urged her peers to believe in themselves and chase their dreams without fear. “Believe that you are strong enough, both mentally and physically. Life will take its turn knocking you down; you must believe that you can get back up again and hit the pavement running towards the direction of your dream,” she encouraged. “Believe that your dream is important enough to chase after, and never stop until you reach it. But do not forget to have faith in yourself that you can reach your dreams.”
Buchholz further suggested, “We, the Class of 2014, are more than a group of young adults. We are the future. Believe that your dream is important enough to chase after, and never stop until you reach it. But do not forget to have faith in yourself that you can reach your dream.”
After the FCHS concert band performed “Prince of Egypt”, Anne Gifford took the stage. Gifford noted that although she didn’t join the class until her freshman year, she felt at home right away. “As I walked into my new school my class welcomed me into their ranks immediately. Apart from the fact that I occasionally caught myself cheering for the Vikings instead of the Tigers at football games, anyone outside of our school would have never known that I had only met my new class,” she reminisced.
Gifford also specifically addressed the community, stating, “You, our community, have done so much for us. You have been our ‘12th Man’, and our ‘6th man’, and my wish is that you turn into our ‘3rd man’, supporting us alongside our parents as we start this new chapter of our lives. But I also am also counting on you to continue to be the whatever-th man for years to come.”
The fourth speaker, Madison Olberding, encouraged her classmates to move forward toward their goals. “Our lives are just beginning. Although it may feel like a huge portion of our life is already over, it’s not. We will always have these memories, and now we have the chance to make even more. What you do with your life is up to you, and each of us has the freedom to make this decision now,” she stated.
Olberding also thanked all those who have helped the class succeed throughout the years. “I would like to thank all of the teachers, administration, school board members, friends, and especially our families who have gotten us this far. Without those people, none of us would be here today getting ready to walk across this stage and take that next step in our lives,” she stated.
The fifth and final speaker was Brooke Scheitel. She noted all the changes that her classmates had witnessed throughout their 13 years of school, such as the price of gas rise, the cellular phone evolve into a “mini-computer” and the addition of iPads to the school district. Scheitel also touched on the life lessons she has learned throughout her time at FCHS: “Life is about working hard, giving to others as we would want given to us, and being there for our family and friends when they need us most. The Class of 2014 realized this and much more.”
Scheitel also encouraged her classmates to take chances when given the opportunity, whatever path they may choose. Some of us will become doctors, others teachers, and some farmers, and we will all be making decisions and taking shots at challenging obstacles, but no matter what we do and how often we change our minds, we need to remember the famous quote by Wayne Gretzky: You will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. So when you are given the chance, make sure you take the shot, she urged.
After the speeches, the senior choir members performed “Lean on Me”. Principal Gale Dunkhas ended the ceremony by offering the graduates the “ABCs to achieve your dreams”, including life tips such as “Avoid negative people, places and things, Believe in yourself, and Consider things from every angle.” Dunkhas addressed the class, “Class of 2014, enjoy life, enjoy the journey, each and every step. Every one of you has strengths and qualities that will allow you to be successful.”
He concluded his speech by thanking the senior sponsors, faculty and staff of FCHS, and parents, mentors, family members and friends who have made an impact on each student’s life. Dunkhas ended the speech saying, “Lastly, Class of 2014, I want to thank you for your part in making this a great school year. I close every year by telling the graduates; Good luck, good health, success, and happiness. Every one of you deserves that.”