It took them two days longer than anticipated, but the Lake H.S. seniors can call themselves graduates after Tuesday’s ceremony at Owens C.C.
Just over 2,300 people filled the Student Health and Activities Center to watch 104 students hear their names called.
Among those graduates was Katelyn Kranz, the class valedictorian, who lost her father, Ted, in last weekend’s storm. Kranz did not speak during the ceremony, but she did receive the two loudest standing ovations of the night the two times her name was called.
Kranz finished with a 4.518 GPA and has accepted almost $40,000 in scholarship money. She was offered over $340,000 in scholarship money from various organizations and universities, and the graduating seniors were offered over $3 million in scholarships.
A lingering rumor that next year’s students will be spread around to various schools was squashed by Lake Superintendent Jim Witt.
“We don’t know how, we don’t know where, and we don’t know the particulars yet, but I stand here in front of you giving you my word and the word of the Board of Education that Lake High School will be together somewhere come August.”
Following Witt’s comments, senior Spencer Genson sang the national anthem and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Genson was followed by a performance from the Lake Chorale. Soon after, the first graduation class speaker Dustin Fincher spoke of the way the community has come together.
“It’s truly heartwarming to see so many people ready and motivated to help where they can. There’s a lot of work to be done, no question there. But after seeing some of the dedication and effort going into the cleanup, I believe we can all rest assured the work will get done.”
Margene Akenberger, vice president of the Lake Board of Education, gave a heartfelt speech to the students.
“I know you would rather be down 795, sitting in our own field house, but Mother Nature had a whole different plan for you. Lake High School will rise again and our pride will live on. We can be knocked down, but we’re not defeated.”
Akenberger noted that this senior class has quite a legacy. The class was the first to enter the new middle school as sixth graders. They are the last class to walk out and graduate from the now ruined high school. They had a mini tornado hit on the eve of their prom, and now they’ve had this major tornado on the eve of their graduation.
“There’s no limit to what you guys can do,” she said.
Nicole Schulte, the second class speaker, said she her speech was unchanged by the storm.
“I don’t think I needed to (change it),” she said. “I mean, what I wrote, how I felt when I wrote this back in November, even after June 5, is still how I feel today.”