Kimball graduates 29 in class of 2015


John Verser

Jordyn McDowall, right, receives a hug during the flower presentation during Saturday's Kimball High School graduation ceremony. She was one of 29 graduates from the class of 2015 honored Saturday morning.

Rowdy Keller spent more time preparing Saturday's co-valedictorian speech than any in high school, he said.

The roughly two-minute speech at the Kimball High School graduation ceremony bookended a 13-year journey in front of classmates, friends, family, school officials and others Saturday morning.

"It has been a fast four years with my classmates," Keller said of his time at KHS. "It seems like just yesterday we were creating havoc in freshman PE. Through those many things, we learned many things...we learned skills like hard work and perseverance. And some of us, like me, learned the good ole skill of procrastination."

Keller thanked his family, teachers and coaches for their help throughout the years.

"Through the disappointments and hard times, my times here were enjoyed," Keller said. "I made many friends and I have lots of good memories. My last advice to my fellow classmates, as Rodney Dangerfield once said, 'It's a jungle out there. You've got to look out for number one. But make sure you don't step in number two.'"

Kimball saw 29 graduates cross the stage later that morning as graduates of the class of 2015. After a welcome by Jessica Hanks and the national anthem by Leisha Casimiro, Superintendent Marshall Lewis went over the class of 2015's academic recognition.

Hanks, also a co-valedictorian, said the stress of the final few weeks as the students thought about finishing high school and planning the future was finally over.

"It's over. We made it. All of the never-ending school days, all of the long practices, all of the many years spent studying and all of the college Algebra tests that made me want to cry, are a thing of the past," she said. "The goals and obstacles we thought we'd never be able to face are behind us."

She thanked her family, teachers, coaches and others who helped her get to graduation day.

"The road to graduation has been a long and difficult one, but one thing is for certain, it was all worth it," Hanks said. "All of the time and effort, tears and passion, and hard work and determination, we poured into our high school career, has finally gotten us to this point at which we thought we'd never arrive. I am so proud of all of the students seated around me today for pushing through and earning the reward of a high school diploma. Each one of you will forever be able to look back on this moment and say to yourselves, 'I did it.'"

Hanks said the achievement of graduation shows the members of this year's graduating class that they can set out to achieve their dreams, even if they are difficult.

"No matter what path you take, what road you follow or what life you life, there will always be struggles to overcome," she said. "Just remember, even though they will seem impossible in the moment, you now know you can always get it done."

After thanking family, teachers and others, Colton Stull, the third of three co-valedictorians, said his fellow graduates "have made the past 13 years a journey I will never forget."

Stull spoke on the characteristics of the graduating class, which he said centered on perseverance, toughness and passion. He spoke of the perseverance of Ben Sauter, who improved himself through hard work.

"This is a kid, who, as a junior high football player, was, I'll be honest, was scrawny and uncoordinated," Stull said. "He did not play organized football up until that point and it really showed. Not quick enough to play a skill position, Coach Wurdeman stuck this tiny little kid at center to block and protect the backfield. While he managed to hold his own at the time, it never looked like Ben would be an overwhelmingly good lineman."

After six years of hard work, Sauter was named an all-conference and all-district offensive lineman.

"Although he was rarely bigger from the guys lined up across from him, and usually actually outweighed by 50 pounds, you could always count on him to get the push we needed for the tough yards," Stull said.

Stull spoke of Keller's toughness. Stull mentioned a time as a freshman when Keller received a concussion and was knocked out by a blow to the head from Stull's knee while playing kickball in PE class.

"During those few seconds directly after, I was worried I had committed a murder. Once he came to, I felt little relief from my guilt, because I remembered he had a wrestling match that very night, one of the first in his high school career," Stull said. "Rowdy ended up being carried to the nurse because he was so wobbly, so I knew it must be pretty serious. A couple hours later, and a doctors visit later, he looked back to his normal self, besides the huge bump on the side of his head. He even proceeded to ask Coach Mitchell if he could wrestle that night, even though I'm pretty sure he had been diagnosed with a concussion. Mr. Mitchell obviously told Rowdy that he wasn't able to compete, but regardless, that kid is one crazy son-of-a-gun."

Jon Withrow represented passion, according to Stull. In the 2014 football game against Hershey, Withrow willed the Longhorns to a comeback victory while he was sick. He rushed for 193 yards and had 120 yards on kickoff returns in the game. His one catch for 17 yards helped fuel the comeback victory.

"He only had one catch on the day, which went for 17 yards. That's probably my fault for not getting him the ball more," said Stull, the quarterback. "The catch came at the most crucial point of the game. We were down four with less than two minutes to go, and it was fourth and 16. Jon caught an underthrown ball, as Mrs. Ferg always likes to remind me, 10 yards down the field. He shed the guy attempting to cover him immediately, and after he caught it, turned upfield, where he was met by a group of Hershey defenders about three yards short of the first down. He fought through the gang tackle and lunged for the first down, which he got, by inches. He later scored the winning touchdown with six seconds left."

Stull said Withrow's "willpower to carry our team to victory will forever serve as a fond memory of mine for the passion that the class of 2015 showed throughout our years."

After the speeches, a slide shown presentation was shown of pictures of the graduates throughout the years. Members of the class handed out roses to family members, friends and others, before returning to the stage for the presentation of diplomas. The classmates then walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

The newly graduated members of the class of 2015 tossed their caps into the air in jubilation, before exiting the gym as graduates.


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