By Erin Mathews
The Salina Journal
Many of them had known each other since preschool, and it's possible that Sunday's graduation ceremony will be the last time all 48 of Sacred Heart Junior-Senior High School's 2014 graduates are in the same place together.
But their teachers and parents prepared them well for the choices they already have made about their futures and the choices to come, class president Austin Kack told his classmates.
"No matter what you choose to do, you are going to end up somewhere," Kack said. "Whether it's the place that you thought, or somewhere you never would have expected, you are going to end up somewhere."
He said it takes resolve to accomplish goals and do what's necessary to end up in the place you want to be.
"Don't just want it; you're going to go get it," he said.
Kack spoke to a standing-room-only crowd following a full Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, during which members of the senior class read Scripture and presented roses to a statue of the Virgin Mary. The graduates also presented Mother's Day roses to their moms.
Matthew McKee and Megan Stein were announced as winners of the Sedes Sapientiae Award, and Tracie Thibault received the John F. and Alfra J. Ritter Humanitarian Award.
After watching her son, Clayton Wetter, receive his diploma, Lori Wetter stood smiling in front of the cathedral. She said Clayton's classmates are close.
"They've known each other from preschool on up," she said. "A lot of them are just like family. There are a lot of good memories."
She said Clayton plans to attend Pittsburg State University to pursue a construction engineering degree.
"We're so blessed that our children are healthy and able to do the next venture in their lives," she said.
Jill Drummond staked out a spot by the wall before retrieving a folding chair from which she could watch her nephew, Tyler Howey, receive his diploma. She said there were too many family members who came to wish Tyler well before he heads to Kansas State University to fit in the one pew reserved for each graduate's family.
Graduate Megan Goodman said she plans to attend Emporia State University in the fall, where she will pursue a degree in information systems. She said she particularly enjoyed music and art classes at Sacred Heart, and she's ready to move on to her next educational opportunity.
Graduate Tate Richards said he plans to follow in his father Shane Richards' footsteps and become a firefighter. He said he's headed to Hutchinson Community College to earn an associate's degree in fire science, and then he hopes to find a job in Salina, Manhattan or Wichita.
Alexandra Denham said her favorite part of high school was Mr. Willis' current events class.
She said she's ready to pursue her computer software engineering degree at K-State, but it will be sad to no longer see the people she's known since first grade at St. Mary's Elementary School as often,
"We're more of a family than classmates," she said.
(c)2014 The Salina Journal