Gillespie High School graduated 72 students at its 2018 graduation ceremony on Sunday inside the high school’s gymnasium with a standing-room-only crowd.
The bleacher seating was overflowing and extra seating was available on the floor for elderly guests, but some guests still opted to stand while attending the special ceremony. The ceremony was in shorter fashion this year lasting less than one hour after first-year high school principal Shane Owsley added an awards night that was held Friday evening.
Despite being planned by Owsley, he was unable to attend the ceremonies of his first graduating high school class due to the unfortunate sudden passing of his father. The high school faculty carried out his plans and CUSD 7 Superintendent Joe Tieman took the role of master of ceremonies on Sunday reading from Owsley’s prepared speech.
Superintendent Tieman remarked about the amazing high school career the graduation class had, reading from Owsley’s speech, and aligned the graduate’s path forward with a Lou Holtz quote saying the graduates are in control of their own destiny.
Tieman also honored retiring high school faculty members Beth Zehr and Rick Spencer who, he commented, have a combined 67 years of service at Gillespie CUSD 7. As the crowd provided a standing ovation, Tieman praised the pair for their contributions before they received hugs from the two school board members in attendance – board president Mark Hayes and Peyton Bernot.
Student speakers were valedictorian’s Marshall Hatlee and Hannah Labby.
Labby lined her speech with humor and veered from the traditional graduation speech, but spoke to students and teachers about what high school in Gillespie meant to her reminding the class the town is their first home and not to be afraid of pointing out Gillespie on the map.
Hatlee opened his speech thanking his family, special teachers, donors, the Partnership of Educational Excellence, and his student family who were there when he needed help and guidance and provided plenty of support. He challenged his classmates to take risks both professionally and personally and to keep doing what they are already doing before wishing them the best of luck in the future.
The graduating class included 19 National Honor Society members and earned a number of awards and scholarships presented Friday evening. The Partnership of Educational Excellence presented scholarships to 23 graduates and United Community Bank recognized Hatlee as the student of the year.