‘Dream one size too big’

Published 7:01 am Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Austin High School Knowlton Auditorium was buzzing with excitement as family and friends gathered to watch red-robed and capped students receive their diplomas and take the next step in life, be it college, the workforce or the military.

Commencement speakers were 12 high distinction students who earned GPAs of 3.9 or better. They talked about memories made, the high school journey and looking toward the future.

“We realize how much we leave behind and how much we take with us,” senior Sean Baker said.

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Many of the student speakers thanked their family, friends, teachers and community for the support they received throughout their education.

“They [the teachers] did a superior job helping us,” Aleesha Anderson said. “They gave us more information than just text books.”

Others encouraged their fellow classmates to take the next step forward and embrace new experiences.

“Experience the world and make more memories,” Ryan Kempen said.

Madison and Mara Overby spoke together and said the class has supported each other and now it was time to focus on an outer support system.

“Take a step forward and then take a giant leap forward,” they told classmates.

The 12 commencement speakers included Sean Baker, Aleesha Anderson, Madison Overby, Mara Overby, Ryan Kempen, Jennifer Bogle, Joshua Irvin, Keenan Schultz, Timothy Farrell, Valentina Truong-Ferreira, Sarah Eich and Elizabeth Ettinger.

Superintendent David Krenz opened the ceremony by saying the students each took a different journey to get to this night.

“We hope we’ve prepared you for the next step,” Krenz said. “You’ll be charting your own path. You will have to decide for yourself.”

Assistant Principals Andrea Malo and Stacy Schultz presented the distinguished graduates, which consisted of seniors adorned in gold and silver stoles, National Honor Society blue and gold cords, and scarlet cords for community service.

AHS Senior Principal Kayleen Baskin presented the seniors for graduation and Angie Goetz, school board chair, accepted.

Baskin dubbed the graduates as a part of Austin High School history and said the faculty and staff was privileged to watch them grow.

“Dream one size too big,” Baskin said. “Always stay humble and kind,”

She then read the names of 257 graduates as they walked, or did a little dance, across stage and received their diploma. Many of the students were going onto college, into the work force, into a branch of the military or weren’t quite sure yet.

Austin School Board members helped present the diplomas to graduates.

The traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” was played by the AHS orchestra under the direction of Gene Schott as the graduates strolled in and the AHS choir sang “Sure on this Shining Night” under the direction of Brian Johnson.

Distinguished faculty included Jens Levisen, Todd Johnson, Eliza Kelly, Jennifer Stensrud, Collen Owens, Lisa Rueckert, Levon Larson, Emma Davis and Terry Carlson.