Hundreds of proud parents, friends and family gathered at Prichard Auditorium Sunday afternoon to celebrate the accomplishments of the 55-member Falls City High School Class of 2016 and send them out into the world.
The class as a whole earned over $1.8 million dollars in scholarships.
The commencement exercise again featured the Cum Laude system, where there is neither a Salutatorian nor Valedictorian, but rather graduates with varying degrees of distinction. Graduating Summa Cum Laude, this year’s speakers were Christian Nathaniel Bennett and Elizabeth Kaye Bauman.
The four others graduating Summa Cum Laude were: Madison Paige Buckminster, Lainey Catherine Larsen, Haley Lynn Liberty and Megan Christine Vollmer.
Graduating with high academic distinction as Magna Cum Laude, were: Anthony Jon Aki Baker, Bailey Niccole Bindle, Chessanie Morgan Alea Blakely, Kellse Mae Embretson, Samantha Jean Harmon, Danielle Grace Kirkendall, Marissa Jayne Ogden and Carley Allyse Youde.
Those graduating Cum Llaude: Sophie Quinn Keller, Jordan May Phroper, Morgan Estelle Phroper and Hannah Marie Weaver.
The remainder of the FCHS Class of 2016 to receive their diplomas: Samantha Marie Acton, Lauren Nicole Bierman, Blake Allan Black, Kolby Alan Bokelman, Jacob Frederick Brewer, Alexis Joel Bruckner, Jami Leann Coonce, Kaitlynn Grace Crofford, Charles Joseph Dawkins Jr., Melissa Feighner, Gregory Folsom, Cody Frederick, Luke Gifford, Abigail Gilkerson, Morgan Hardenberger, McKayla Henderson, Kristin Krohn, Julia Landry, Kaylee Leafty, Josie Lundsford, Jamie Mackey, Rhiannon Mackey, Montana Mirlez, Cassidy Pain, Trenton Pentecost, Hannah Popejoy, Colton Rice, Martin Richbourg, Jeremy Robinson, Bradly Rose, Bryan Rose, Austin Scates, Avery Scott, Summer Slifer, Yost Tip Ka, Jeremy Waggoner Jr.
Falls City Public School Superintendent, Tim Heckenlively welcomed everyone to the commencement ceremony.
Elizabeth Bauman was introduced as the first speaker. Bauman began her speech by thanking her class “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You all have taught me so much, maybe more than I ever learned in those classrooms.”
“So as it is my final day with you all, I want to give some last minute advice. We have been looking forward to this moment for over twelve years. Now here it is and once the ceremony is over, where do you go? When the doors shut behind you and you leave a past full of stress, textbooks and classmates, where are you going to go?” she said.
“The great big world is waiting for us and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m kind of scared. I really hope I’m not the only one. However, I want to tell you it’s okay to be scared. Actually be absolutely terrified. Our future is unknown and I know that what lies ahead of us is something great, powerful and meaningful, whatever it may be. So we should fear the amazing things that await. Who knows where they will take us. The only thing you should not ever fear is yourself. No matter what lies inside of your mind, do not be afraid of it. Do not think that your dreams are wrong. The life you are meant to have hasn’t been lived before. Perhaps you aren’t sure of what I’m trying to say, so let me break it down. College is the place we have all been told to go to in order to get somewhere in this world. Over and over and over we have been prepared for that place, but I know that when I roll out of bed for my eight o’clock class I won’t see you all there. And I’m not prepared for that. I’m not prepared to see a world without all of our faces scattered throughout the halls” said Bauman.
She finished her speech by telling her class, “No matter what I never want you to fear what lies out there in this universe and I never want you to fear the voice in your head asking to go. Some don’t see it in us, but I do and I know that our potential is vast and that you are all capable of doing so many great things. So when you walk out those doors as Falls City High School graduates, know what your true passion is and no matter how odd, strange and big it might be, I want you to follow it to wherever it is ready to take you. So thank you class of 2016, you have all given me so much.”
The senior song, ‘Homeward Bound’ was performed by the Senior Singers
Christian Bennett took the stage to give his speech. He thanked the teachers “that so desperately tried to teach us the many useful lessons that we will need to survive and thrive in the world.”
“Graduating high school is just another small step towards the amazing things that will come in each and every one of our lives. Whether you are going to college or not you can be anything you want. We can finally become what we have dreamed of ever since we were little. We can become doctors or authors or anything we are willing to work for. The only person now that is in our way is ourselves,” said Bennett.
He finished by telling his class “This is not the end of anything, it’s only the beginning. The beginning of a life of adventure and hard work. A life full of love and passion for what you love. Graduating more like promoting from childhood to adulthood.”
Principal Gale Dunkhas closed the ceremony by telling the class that each year he looks for something motivational or profound to say, something they will remember.
“I generally call on the audience to think back to their graduation day. Words of wisdom by a speaker or the principal are not generally the first thing that pops into your mind,” he said.
But one thing that I always remember even though for me it was 34 years ago, I remember the pride that my parents and family had in me. I was proud of myself, proud of my classmates. We had spent our whole lives working for this day just like the graduates here have today. But I think some advice and what I have to say now is important. I don’t want you, the class of 2016 to wonder if the time, hard work, and your classes accomplishments were appreciated, because they were. The profound and memorable things I will share today are things that I have learned from my teachers, my friends, and my parents, and on my own.”
“Hold on to your dreams and never let them go. Be yourself and show the world how wonderful you are. Be strong when adversity strikes, and it will, you are stronger than you can imagine, know that, yes, you’re going to make it through, no matter what. Look on the bright side of things you don’t let adversity or negative people surround yourself with people who want to see you be successful. That you listen to the wishes of your heart. It always seems to know what’s true, what’s right, and what to do, and if you are honest with yourself will lead you in the right direction. And lastly, that you know, the sacrifices you make and acts of kindness and good that you do for people less fortunate will be re-paid in full.”
Principal Dunkhas closed the ceremony as he does every year, by telling the graduates, “Good luck, good health, success, and happiness.”
But this year he added “I wish for you a path that will lead to beautiful tomorrows. Every one of you deserves that.”