Kiowa grads saluted for talents, diversity

25 seniors hear advice at commencement rite

Posted 5/28/15

Put graduating high school seniors together for a commencement ceremony and there is bound to be some advice offered before it is over.

For the 25 graduates in the Kiowa High School Class of 2015, the advice included challenges, motivation and …

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Kiowa grads saluted for talents, diversity

25 seniors hear advice at commencement rite

Posted

Put graduating high school seniors together for a commencement ceremony and there is bound to be some advice offered before it is over.

For the 25 graduates in the Kiowa High School Class of 2015, the advice included challenges, motivation and humor. Superintendent Jason Westfall hit on all three veins in his opening remarks.

“The question you should be asking yourself right now is not who's going to let me. Rather the question is, who's going to stop me,” Westfall said. “Challenge the orthodoxy. Just because something has been done a certain way for eons doesn't mean it's the right way of getting it done. And third, this one's from my mother: Remember when you are out in the world, you are searching for your soulmate, not your cellmate. Finally, the best helping hand you'll ever receive is right at the end of your own arm.”

Commencement speaker Donnie Gabehart reiterated Westfall's challenges by telling the students to never say never, and he reinforced the notion that a single person can make a difference. Gabehart illustrated his point by citing his own election as the mayor of Kiowa, an election decided by a single vote, his own.

Both the valedictorian and salutatorian used their speeches to recognize the special talents and diversity of their classmates.

Valedictorian Jessi Dodge acknowledged her fellow graduates by taking them and the assembled family and friends on an imaginary class trip to the South Pacific. In Dodge's account of their fictional trip, the class becomes stranded on a tropical island, but in their predicament, they thrive, using their individual talents to prosper until their eventual rescue. She closed by expanding on advice offered by adventurer Jeff Johnson.

“`The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn't even think to ask.' I wish you a journey full of answers and a lifetime full of questions,” she said.

Dodge received a four-year scholarship to the University of Missouri at Columbia, where she will study photojournalism and anthropology.

Salutatorian Spencer Pierson shared Dodge's sentiments of gratitude to the class and faculty.

Pierson thanked the school's faculty for their support and their commitment to students and expressed his appreciation to parents and family. To his fellow classmates, he recognized their diversity.

“In our small bunch there are aspiring computer programmers, veterinarians, boat mechanics, photojournalists, nurses, cosmetologists, power-line mechanics, psychologists and some people who still aren't sure what they want to do, including yours truly,” he said. “This uniqueness, this diversity of our class was created by the incredible learning environment that Kiowa had to offer.”

Pierson received several scholarships and will attend the University of Colorado in Boulder this fall.

Collectively, the Kiowa High School Class of 2015 received just over $330,000 in scholarships.

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