Debbie Blank Assistant Editor ST. LEON – The 37th annual East Central High School commencement got off to a joyous start Sunday, June 6, with prolonged applause six times in the first 15 minutes. Principal Don Criswell instructed seniors, “Please rise and face to your left. Mothers and fathers, I present to you the Class of 2010!” That got a standing ovation with whooping and hollering. Then they faced the other direction to hear the claps of friends and relatives. Next it was time for the students to express their gratitude by applauding the faculty and staff. Criswell often is patriotic at these ceremonies. After a moment of silence for servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans in the gym were asked to stand to more clapping, then eight seniors going into the military rose to be recognized. Instead of speaking from the podium, student body President Stephanie Neuhaus sang a tune she wrote, accompanying herself on piano. She made her classmates laugh with the line “I guess this is the last time we’ll be together … until tomorrow when we’ll see each other again.” Fellow seniors stood and gave her an ovation, too. Seniors Stephanie Gould and Rachel Meese, who were killed in a May 2008 accident, were remembered in the program as “with the angels.” Three types of diplomas were acknowledged with students rising as their names were announced. Ninety-five wearing yellow cords earned Indiana Academic Honors Diplomas, requiring at least 3.0 grade-point averages. Eight were the first recipients of a technical honors diploma from the state in subjects such as landscaping, culinary arts and the engineering-based Project Lead the Way. Thirty-seven honors graduates with white cords exhibited academic excellence with GPAs at 3.8 or above. The senior with the highest grades was Megan Bischoff at 4.271. Class President Kate Walker noted, “It is with the people in this room that we share our memories ... We kept moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we were curious.” Principal Don Criswell wished them “the happiness of a productive life, the respect of fellow human beings and the love of your family. Never forget you have a home here at East Central High School, where people care for you and wish only the best for you.” Assistant Principal Steve Deutsch read the 323 graduates’ names as guidance director Jacqueline Blair handed diplomas to superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Hendrix to present. Hendrix had a personal stake in this year’s event. He hugged his daughter, Katherine, as she crossed the stage. Tassels were turned, then a mob formed outside of the gym. Alisha Blevins felt “nervous for the future.” Brittany Crone was crying as a photo was taken, but announced, “This is a happy day.” Her goal now is “to figure out what I want to do.” Zach Hammann, possibly going into the Navy, was in shock. “It hasn’t even hit me yet. It’s going to be weird not to be in high school.” David Mansfield is excited to be majoring in physical therapy at Eastern Kentucky University. Tyler Calhoun will study heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electricity at Ivy Tech’s Lawrenceburg campus. First comes summer, when he looks forward to “working and hanging out with my friends.”
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