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TMP graduation will have international flair

5/23/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

A quarter of this year's graduating class at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School flies a different native flag than the stars and stripes of the USA.

The 51 members of the class of 2013 at the Hays Catholic high school will be honored at Sunday's 2 p.m. graduation ceremonies at Al Billinger Fieldhouse on the TMP campus. A 10 a.m. Baccalaureate Mass is scheduled for that morning at 10 a.m., also in the fieldhouse.

Thirteen graduates are resident students from eight foreign countries -- Angola, China, Kenya, Mexico, Rwanda, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The featured speaker this year will be Father Fred Gatschet, who resigned from TMP this spring after teaching religion classes there the past 14 years.

Gatschet, also the chaplain at Fort Hays State University's Comeau Catholic Campus Center during that time span, recently was appointed parochial administrator at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hays by Bishop Edward Weisenburger from the Diocese of Salina.

Gatschet will continue his services at the campus center, but with the added responsibilities at St. Joseph, had to give up his teaching position at TMP.

Sunday's graduation also will be the last official one for four retiring teachers who have spent a cumulative 143 years at the school -- Linda Braun, Jim Dinkel, Juleen Stecklein and Clara Walters -- and for Principal Bill DeWitt.

DeWitt, a 1992 graduate of TMP, came back to his alma mater as principal four years ago after teaching for 10 years in eastern Kansas. He and his wife, Amy, both are graduates of the University of Kansas, and he announced earlier this spring that he and his family would be returning this fall to Lawrence, where he has accepted the dual position of assistant principal and athletic director.

The search for DeWitt's replacement is ongoing.