RACINE — Southern High School graduates exited the building triumphantly after family and faculty gathered for the 8 p.m. ceremony Saturday.
The gold-robed girls and purple-clad boys of the Class of 2016 stood upon the gym stage as class Vice President Brynn Harris welcomed the full auditorium to the Southern High School graduation.
Class Secretary-Treasurer Sabra Bailey delivered the invocation before four seniors marched across the hall to join the Southern Band in a stirring rendition of Olympiada. Band Director Chad Dodson embraced his graduating members at the conclusion of the piece.
After the four rejoined their classmates, Kalynn Seymour started the salutatorian address.
“I’ve never been one to do things the traditional way, so why start now?” she said as she chose to deliver her speech while sitting with her fellow students.
She thanked everyone in attendance for honoring their achievements “thus far,” but emphasized the students’ work ethic meant much more to come. She asked class members who held part-time jobs during their school career to stand, which prompted many on the stage to their feet.
Seymour ascribed her success, and by extension the entire Southern class’s success, to family support.
“The best way to describe my experience with the students, their families and the community is by saying that the phrase, ‘I was welcomed with open arms,’ is an understatement,” she said. “I have been welcomed with an open heart.”
Jansen Wolf followed with the valedictorian address. She spoke to the high spirit of her classmates in overcoming the economic and scholastic disadvantages of Appalachia.
“We have always been underdogs to others. We have faced poverty and had to work for everything we own,” she said.
Wolf said the stage full of graduates defied stereotypes, and would continue that path into the future. Wolf shared a quote from the beloved Dr. Seuss: “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
Presentation of diplomas followed before the students finally performed the change of tassels to great applause from the attending family and loved ones.
National Honor Society Vice-President Madison Maynard read the Benediction and the newly graduated class exited the gym to celebrate on the recently renovated school front lawn.
Principal Daniel Otto, Superintendent Tony Deem and school board President Dennie Evans were among those who joined the crown outside to congratulate parents and students.
“We’re very, very proud of this class,” Deem said. “They have my best wishes and I see a bright future for them.“
The Southern Local graduating class of 2016 is as follows: Dakota Wayne Adams, Kari Lorain Arnold, Sabra Lee Bailey, Savannah Rose Bailey, Joseph Alan Beegle, Holly Diana Cochran, Tiffany Renee Colburn, Brooke McKenzie Cunningham, Morgan Wyatt Davis, Alison Jane Deem, Myria Del Blain, Sydney Hope Diddle, Jeremy Royce Dutton, Mickayla Dawn Eblin, Katelynn Marie Ginther, Cameryn Danielle Harmon, Brynn Noelle Harris, Austin Matthew Hart, Theodore Jason Harton, William Bernard Harton II, Haley Danielle Hill, Hannah Michelle Hill, Parker Allen Holsinger Hill, Theron Douglas Johnson, Courtney Nicole Katona, Michael Anthony Kowell, Dimitrious Octavious Lamm, Timothy Michael Lavender, Madison Nicole Matthews, Madison Grace Maynard, Joseph William Morris, Dalton James Patterson, Marcus Andrew Pickens, Brandy Rene Porter, Madeline Jane Quillen, Thomas James Ramthun, Sylvia Anne-Marie Richards, Gabriel Joseph Riffle, Kalynn Ann Seymour, Wayne Andrew Shockey, Kristopher Dalton Shortridge, Elizabeth Ann Teaford, Dominic Gage Uribe, Crew Mitchell Warden, Brittany Nicole Wells, Elizabeth Allison Wolfe, Jansen Nicole Wolfe, Paulena Yost.