As 184 seniors entered the gym for the 109th annual Batesville High School commencement exercises Saturday, June 1, at 11 a.m., a rowdy crowd greeted some with huge catcalls, shouts and screams.

Six class members who will be joining the military – Gabriella Gibbs, Nicholas Hampson, Caleb Jenkins, Brice Keeton, Caleb Raab and Faith-Anne Schrank – led the Pledge of Allegiance.

After the national anthem, Batesville Singers harmonized on the song "Omnia Sol," which included the lyrics "Let courage be your oar; let passion be your sail; Wisdom and truth will guide your deep heart's yearning ..."

Principal Andy Allen reported, "Today is a day to celebrate achievement."

He described the Class of 2019 as professional. "You revived a sense of school spirit and community pride. ... You decided not only to participate, but also to support" school activities, and he noticed the classmates enjoyed spending time together. "This kind of camaraderie is intentional and meaningful."

The principal admired the standard of excellence seniors set and also their quest to complete "experiences best suited to your career choices. These choices were not just made during your senior year."

He commended the class for "a job well done at Batesville High School."

Superintendent Paul Ketcham introduced BHS Class of 1969 members, who were celebrating their 50th class reunion. On behalf of his classmates, John Waechter offered words of wisdom.

First the U.S. Army veteran asked classmates who served in the military to stand. "I think there were 20 of us" out of a class of 105. They received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The Milestone vice president of operations, who helped oversee the Honda road project in Greensburg and the extension of I-69 from Bloomington to Evansville, said, "My advice from our class to you is wake up, dress up, show up and look up – and never never never give up. So Godspeed on your life of adventure and good luck to you from the Class of 1969!"

Salutatorian Adam Bedel observed, "On the last day of school, I got a lot of advice from many of our former teachers, some of which I’d like to share with you. Mr. (Andrew) Cambron told me to always follow my dreams, Mr. (Charlie) Raab told me to always live life in the moment, Mr. (Charlie) Schuck told me to remember to always wear sunscreen. ..."

He reflected, "Honestly, after 12 years here in Batesville, who wasn’t having trouble paying attention in class every day? We all dealt with our fair share of stress; some us have had to deal with loss, with anxiety, with tests, with relationship problems, overbearing parents, grades, siblings, essays, SATs, figuring out a career path, deciding to enlist in the military, applying to colleges, looking for a job, the list just goes on and on. What we’ve accomplished wasn’t easy, so pat yourself on the back for that, but sadly, what lies ahead of us now that we’re done is even harder. We’re about to enter a new phase in our lives, one with new challenges to overcome and new experiences to be had."

Valedictorian Daniel Gutzwiller observed, "Our class’s competitiveness, in my eyes, is the main reason why I believe everyone has the potential to be successful in their life after high school. In the words of Thomas Edison, 'Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” The essence of competition always lies within the choices we make. We can either decide to try one more time and compete, or we can give up and watch our goals fade. As I look out to all of you, I hope you make the choice to compete. Make the choice to study a little harder for your classes. Make the choice to work a little harder for your job."

The valedictorian and salutatorian each received $2,700 Paul & Thelma (Lamping) Grossman Scholarships awarded by four sons to remember their parents, who had the same two spots in 1959.

As Student Council President Caroline Fitzpatrick read the names of students, senior class representative Sophia Brown assisted the superintendent as he presented the diplomas.

Then Fitzpatrick gave the last speech of the day, announcing how much she loves the 236 episodes of the TV sitcom "Friends." "This year we decided to take this theme for powderpuff (when the girls played football the afternoon before the homecoming game). We're not just classmates, we are friends."

The president believed the Class of 2019 has set "even higher expectations for incoming classes," which she credited to "support from our amazing teachers."

Fitzpatrick recalled during their sophomore year "we were faced with a tragic loss" when German teacher Andy Koors died.

"We celebrated many victories," from BHS Academic Team squads going to state and countless conference and sectional athletic wins to the FFA chapter competing at the national level. She enumerated academic achievements, which she attributed to families "loving us unconditionally. Your support, guidance and patience mean more to us than you'll ever know."

"I hope that everyone finds their passion and their form of success. Our friends and memories will last forever. This episode is "The one Where we Found out who we Really Are.'"

Led by Fitzpatrick and Brown, the fresh graduates turned their tassels and tossed caps into the air.

Outside Maggie Walsman confessed, "I'm going to miss the people I've spent the last four years with."

Most are contemplating their futures with a sense of expectation. Ethan Gibbs hopes to join the U.S. Marines soon and "actually make something of my life rather than sitting in a classroom and doing homework."

Lain Goewert wants to become a software developer after attending Ivy Tech Community College, then either Purdue University or IUPUI. "It's going to be good to get out there in the world and be free!"

Please see a slide show of photos on our website's homepage.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.