Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

June 4, 2013

Game over for ECHS graduates

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

BATESVILLE — ST. LEON – “We are a class of different and exceptional personalities,” Student Council President Meredith Seamon told the East Central High School Class of 2013 during its 40th commencement June 2. She reported, “Every one of us” suffered from senioritis big-time. Before that, she was hopeful each of the 311 classmates found his or her niche.

Seamon pointed out, “It’s important to remember we will always have this place, we will always have these people, we will always have these memories.  There’s an enormous world out there waiting for us to make it our own.” She encouraged the students to “find what makes you, you.”

Many were celebrating cumulative grade-point averages of at least 3.0. Guidance director Bev Ester reported that 131, the largest number so far and over a third of the class, earned Academic Honor Diplomas and eight achieved Technical Honor Diplomas.

Twenty-nine seniors became honor graduates, amassing 3.8 and higher GPAs. With an impressive 4.314, Brian Frondorf led the pack.

Senior class President Danielle McClure turned to her dad and even Google for speech advice. A family friend advised her to talk about something meaningful so she drew an analogy between basketball and high school. Four quarters became four years. Teachers were coaches and administrators were referees. McClure noted, “There were plays that went right,” high school dances and pep rallies among them. “We all went through tough times. Sometimes the game is so hard, all we need is a time-out.” Her voice shaking, the president said that now, “a new game starts.”

Principal Robert Shipley observed a senior’s commencement “only happens once in a lifetime. I can’t think of anything more exciting or disappointing at the same time.” With 3.2 million graduating from 37,000 high schools in 2013, he told the students, “you’re not special.” But in the future they could be. “That’s up to you. Live each day like it’s your last because some day it will be .... Don’t let your dreams remain as dreams. Act and act now.”

He asked active and future military enlistees to stand and 14 did, including two young women. They were greeted with a standing ovation.

Ester and assistant principal Jamie Ballart read seniors’ names as superintendent Dr. Jeff Hendrix handed out diplomas, then Shipley gave hugs and handshakes.

After the traditional banner retirement ceremony backed by attendees singing the school’s alma mater and tassels turning, the fresh alumni met friends and family in the fieldhouse. Mary Downton was nervous before the ceremony, “but now I’m happy,” she said. Bound for psychology studies at Northern Kentucky University, her immediate goal is finding a summer job.

Sam Conroy admitted he was “just happy to get out of here.” When asked about future plans, he grinned, “I have no idea. ”

Conner Struewing, a future Ball State University nursing student, confessed graduation is “a bittersweet moment. It’s sad to leave East Central, but exciting to start a new chapter. It’s an amazing feeling.”