Holton High School seniors Elizabeth Mandala (left) and Chelsea Klahr played their flutes with the HHS concert band before they and 78 other Holton seniors graduated during Saturday’s commencement exercises in the HHS gym. (Photo by David Powls)

Holton High School graduates 80 seniors


At the 135th commencement exercises for Holton High School here Saturday evening at the gymnasium, a large crowd of parents, family and friends were on hand to cheer on the 80 members of the class of 2015 while the steady, soothing beat of a steady rain on the gym’s roof provided a sort of drum-like beat for most of the affair.

Class President Taryn Weilert announced that 44 of her classmates plan to attend a four-year college, 14 plan to attend a two-year college, five plan to attend vocational schools, four plan to join the military and 13 plan to enter the workforce.

Five students graduating cum laude — Paige DeLay, Madison Reith, Braden Sides, Trey Tanking and Karl Wilhelm — addressed the audience and then four students graduating magna cum laude — Garett Beecher, Tori Bontrager, Dean Klahr and Weilert — took their turn also addressing the audience.

Finally, two students graduating with the highest scholastic honors — summa cum laude — Ashley Cook and Kelcie Matousek —  closed out the commencement addresses for the class.

In between clasps of thunder, the addresses made by the first two sets of honor students involved a nostalgic look back at the grade school, middle school and high school years for the class, complete with the valuable lessons learned involving paying attention, keeping your hands to yourself, the complexity of relationships and taking responsibility for your actions.

As the commencement addresses continued, the honor students talked about focusing on things in the present tense — now, the fact that difficulties lie ahead, advice such as “stay true to yourselves,” and the idea that it is how you deal with your adversity that really matters. “Life is not fair” is another message that the honors students mentioned. The students also remembered a classmate — Michael Anderson — who died when the class was in middle school.

Summa cum laude honor student Ashley Cook said, “Don’t be afraid to laugh. Life is too short to be too serious.”

Top student Matousek brought all the life lessons mentioned earlier by her peers into sharp focus with a poignant remembrance of her late mother, who died in October of 2006 from ovarian cancer, when Kelcie was just age nine.

Matousek said that at some time in their lives, everyone feels indestructible. “But I want to tell my story.”

She said her father’s advice has helped her a lot over the years.

“He said that my mother’s death will always be with me, but that it does not need to control me,” she said. “Work for your dreams. Be happy with what you have. Embrace the moment. Address everything in the now.”

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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