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TMP graduation set for this weekend

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Scheduling graduation on Memorial Day weekend is a long-standing tradition of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School and its predecessors. And a lot of alumni of the local Catholic high school that turned 100 years old in 2008 usually turn out for the event.

This year's visiting alumni will include a newly ordained priest.

Father Gale Hammerschmidt, ordained Saturday in a ceremony at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, has been chosen for this year's commencement speaker.

A 10 a.m. baccalaureate Mass will be followed by the graduation ceremonies at 2 p.m., all in Al Billinger Fieldhouse on the TMP campus.

For those unable to attend graduation in person, they can watch it live on the Internet by going to www.hayspost.com and clicking on "TMP Graduation."

Hammerschmidt is a 1990 graduate of TMP. He was born and raised in Hays, and when his parents moved to Manhattan his senior year of high school, he stayed with his grandparents in Munjor so he could graduate with his class.

He followed his parents to Manhattan, to attend Kansas State University, then taught and coached at Luckey Junior High in Manhattan before entering the seminary.

Hammerschmidt has been assigned to serve as an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral and said he is "honored" to have been chosen to speak at the 2012 graduation of his alma mater.

A total of 65 seniors will be honored, including 18 international students from four countries -- China, Napal, South Korea and Taiwan.

One thing unique for this year's graduating class is that 100 percent of the 47 day students received at least one scholarship for postsecondary education, the first time for that accomplishment in the 28 years Kathy Taylor has been guidance counselor at TMP.

Sunday will be a reunion of sorts for Taylor, who taught Hammerschmidt when he was in school at TMP, as well as Principal Bill DeWitt (graduate of 1992) and several of the TMP staff. She also will be celebrating the graduation of her youngest daughter, Emilie, a member of the Monarch class of 2012.

But Taylor won't have time to get empty-nest syndrome. On Monday, she will welcome into her home two international students from the girls' residence hall to spend part of the summer with her.