The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

End of one journey, start of another


Anthony Ruiz

Overcast conditions did little to cloud the spirits of more than 80 soon-to-be graduates as they crossed the threshold into adulthood sunday afternoon during the Sidney High School Class of 2016 commencement ceremony.

The ceremony was conducted in the high school's gymnasium, which was filled to capacity as friends and family eagerly awaited its start.

Prior to commencement, the audience was treated to a video highlighting each of the 83 graduating seniors as they revealed their future plans following high school, whether it be college, military service, joining the workforce or even traveling overseas to study.

The video also showcased senior moments throughout the 2015-16 school year.

Following the video, the processional began, and students made their way through the audience to their seats. Male students were adorned in black gowns, while the women wore red.

Once the graduating seniors were in place, the Sidney Singers lead the audience in the national anthem and Sidney Superintendent Jay Ehler gave the welcome address.

"My job is very rewarding, and I'm happy to be an educator and get to be a small part of these students' lives," Ehler said. "These young men and women are ready to greet the future, knowing that their possibilities are limitless."

Ehler said the graduating class has matured, and is now prepared for new challenges and goals.

"As I look back at your school journey that started with footsteps as a kindergartner, I see how far you have progressed," he said. "You possess the pride of a high school graduate, and it has been a great privilege to be a part of your journey."

Class Salutatorian Logan Uhlir was then recognized, followed by the Sidney Singers performing OneRepublic's "I Lived" before Valedictorian Megan Neal made her way to the stage for her address.

Neal began her speech by saying that she woke up that morning with a "surreal" feeling.

"I mean, the last 13 years of my life, and those of my classmates, have been devoted to earning this day," she said. "The reason that graduation invokes feelings such as fear and uncertainty is because it's the beginning of the next stage of our journey."

Neal said that she believes her fellow graduates would agree with her that, while they are happy to be free of high school, "the thought of leaving the familiar behind in search of something better is scary."

Neal then began going through Arnold van Gennep's rites of passage before stopping herself mid-sentence.

"Enough with this," she said. "I don't want to bore you with academic jargon on this day of celebration. Instead, let's start at the very beginning, because that is a very good place to start."

The rest of Neal's speech tied life lessons she and her fellow classmates learned through bedtime stories such as Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham" and "The Lorax," Judith Viorst's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day," Don Freeman's "Coduroy" and even Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

"Because, like (that story), you'll become truly beautiful, inside and out," she said.

Anthony Ruiz

Mia hernandez receives her high school diploma from Sidney School Board President Tom Von Seggern during Sunday's commencement ceremony.

Wrapping up her address, Neal said as she and the rest of the graduating class go out into the world, they need to remember, like Dorothy in L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," that there's no place like home.

"And call home every once in a while," she said. "Because our parents will miss us just as much as we miss them."

Principal Chris Arent followed Neal's valedictorian address with the presentation of academic awards, and Counselor Tess Plummer recognized the students who earned scholarships.

Arent returned to the stage to give special recognition to Uhlir for being named a National Merit Scholar finalist.

The commencement ceremony concluded with the presentation of diplomas by Sidney School Board President Tom Von Seggern.

Following the commencement, graduates gathered in the high school's common area to visit with family and friends before heading out the door and into their future.


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