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Morning Sun
  • A small class celebrates

  • ARMA - A small class size and special closeness punctuated the commencement ceremony for the Northeast High School Class of 2013, as did gratitude for family, teachers and community.

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    ARMA - A small class size and special closeness punctuated the commencement ceremony for the Northeast High School Class of 2013, as did gratitude for family, teachers and community.

    "This is one of the most important nights in our lives," said Laila Schlee in her welcome address. 

    She thanked parents as the ones who dealt with each student day-in and day-out,  and faculty who allowed graduation day to be possible.

    She also noted that the class size is small, but that its members are better for it.

    "We cannot thank you enough for all the memories that bonded us together," Schlee said. "We hope everyone here can enjoy this special day as much as we do."

    Salutatorian Sammy Brooks spoke on the memories of learning to write, learning cursive and then making the jump from a first locker to graduation day.

    He then thanked those present again.

    To the parents, he gave a thank you for their love and support, and he thanked the community for rallying around Northeast High School.

    "I can't tell you how many times you've helped our Stuco or NHS," he said, reflecting on the community's continual willingness to help out the school.

    He also thanked the teachers for they way they have personally invested in the students' lives.

    "You're not just great teachers," Brooks said. "You're great people."

    Brooks also advised that commencement is not the end.

    "Think of it as the beginning," he said, reminding his classmates to move forward and to learn from mistakes along the way.

    Schlee spoke again as valedictorian, and the gratitude continued.

    "Thank you once again," she said. "As a class we want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you."

    Page 2 of 3 - She spoke on the closeness of her class as they head into a new stage of life.

    "It just made us that much closer, and I know that any one of my classmates would be there if I needed them," Schlee said, adding that the class will continue to overcome obstacles.

    "Although these challenges may be hard to overcome, as a class we are prepared to conquer them."

    Schlee referenced the class motto, "It's not the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away," and wished for each of her classmates to live to the fullest and to never let others bring them down.

    The closeness was evident during a performance of "Whenever You Remember" by Jacqueline Hottel, Gretchen Mills, Kelsey Robarts , Mariah Boggs and Sara Firm, as the graduates hugged while singing.

    The class then had the opportunity to hear from a 1969 alumna of Northeast High School who has done big things while keeping in touch with her roots.

    Mary Carol Pomatto is the university professor and chairperson at the Pittsburg State University Department of Nursing.

    "My year of graduation from high school in 1969 was a tumultuous time in the United States," Pomatto said.

    She shared memories of 1969 and advised the graduates that they someday will look back at 2013 with a similar fondness as they reflect.

    Pomatto then issued graduates a number of challenges, including to serve others.

    "My perspective of work, no matter the setting, is service," she said. "No matter what the next step, I would challenge you to make a difference in the lives of others."

    She said in nursing she has learned that technology is important, but the care of the patient as a person is what really matters.

    Second, she pushed them to work hard for their dreams.

    "Live the life that you've been blessed with," Pomatto said. "All it takes is commitment and a whole lot of hard work."

    Page 3 of 3 - She said that hard work can include not taking health for granted, but working for it, and to remember to count blessings.

    Third, Pomatto encouraged students to keep learning, whether formally or through life experience.

    And she had one final challenge.

    "Be the best person that you can be, every single day, every single moment," she said.

    Before presenting the class to the USD 246 Board of Education, principal Jason Clemensen commented again on the class, after teasing that they had begged him to say something good.

    "I have come to realize the closeness of this class with each other," he said, adding that the 18 students have a rare gift of friendship with and compassion for each other.

    He noted again that the class is small, but not limited.

    "Working together you can accomplish great things," Clemensen said. "As a group, you have always come together. Life is always about working together through the good and bad to accomplish the goal at hand."

    The class then took that next step into life as they were accepted by Chris Bualle, president of the board of education, received their diplomas, were recognized for awards received, watched a slideshow of themselves growing up and left to celebrate with family, friends and community.
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