The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Education

June 7, 2014

AHS graduates remember past, look forward

ANDERSON, Ind. — There wasn’t an empty seat — or many dry eyes — inside the Anderson High School gymnasium as countless friends and family members filed into The Teepee to watch nearly 400 students receive their diplomas on Saturday.

Class President Jordan Hill said there were 394 of his classmates who would complete the journey of high school with him. It’s a day he said will be filled with happiness for him.

“This is a happy day for me,” Hill said. “Not much sadness — a little because I’m leaving — but its a good time to reflect on the year.”

Graduation is a different story for Kylee Keen, who promised her grandfather who died in November that she would graduate from high school. She said one of his last wishes for her was that she would get her degree.

“I’ll probably be crying when I get the diploma today,” Keen said, “because I’ll be thinking about him.”

She said this is a moment she has been looking forward to since her freshman year and since her grandfather’s passing has taking on a different meaning. As an only child, Keen said she is also looking forward to making her parents proud by graduating. She said seeing the fulfillment in their eyes will be the best part of high school for her.

Many people say graduation is such an important event for young people trying to better their lives, and many studies have backed up how much better life is for high school graduates versus dropouts.

For Nancy Bard, seeing her granddaughter Jessica Bard graduate was so important she made the long trip all the way from Alabama. Bard is the first of her six grandchildren to graduate from high school.

“I’m just so excited about this moment,” Bard said. “I feel very blessed to have her as a grandchild.”

Bard joked that it made her feel old to see Jessica graduate.

Bard was sitting with Jessica’s other grandmother, Sandy Centers, who lives in Anderson. Centers is on the other end of the spectrum as Jessica is her last grandchild to graduate. Because she’s the last, Centers said this graduation might be even more special than the other ones.

“I know I’ll be crying,” Centers said. “I was almost crying on the way here.”

Centers is also very proud of the fact Jessica is graduating, a feat she herself didn’t accomplish until later in life.

Both grandmothers were proud to announce Jessica would be continuing her education as she studies to become a registered nurse.

Hill said he, too, is ready to take the next step and head off to college at South Dakota State University to study agricultural economics. Although SDSU isn’t a normal landing spot for Anderson grads, it is one of the few universities to offer the major Hill was looking for.

“It’s one of only 60 colleges to offer that major,” Hill said. “Plus, my girlfriend lives in that town, which is an added bonus.”

Until classes start, though, Hill said he will try to enjoy the summer as much as he can.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.

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