OTTUMWA — More than 300 young people went from being Ottumwa High School students to high school graduates Sunday. Now it's time for each of them to stand out, said one of their speakers, and continue to grow.
It's become tradition for the senior class to choose a teacher who has made a difference in their lives, and to ask that educator to speak during graduation. The Class of 2013 chose social studies teacher Kelly Scott. OHS Principal Mark Hanson said Scott told him that among the awards and honors he's received, being asked by students to speak at commencement is "the coolest."
First, students heard from classmate Charles Altfillisch, president of the Class of 2013. He started out somber: That today was the first day of the rest of their lives, and that they should thank those who were so supportive of them through their high school years: The employees at Taco Bell.
There were lessons they learned at the fast food stop that will last them the rest of their lives, Charles said. Looking up at that menu board, as with life, they see many choices.
"Decision making is an important skill," he said. "Soon, we will have to make more important decisions than whether to add sour cream."
But if you can decide whether an item would be better or worse with sour cream, you can, the class president was confident, make any decision the world presents. Late night snacks and quick lunches taught students another lesson.
"It's always better with company," Charles said.
It might take just a minute to wolf down a taco, but the kids would spend the rest of the time there hanging out with friends, socializing and making memories. No matter what changes, who keeps in touch or who moves away, those memories and those friendships will always be there, he said.