Renovated Roundhouse hosts 2016 MHS graduates

It was a commencement of firsts and lasts.

The first to be held in the newly renovated Roundhouse.

And the last for Marshalltown Community School District Superintendent Marvin Wade and a host of other educators moving on to other opportunities or retiring.

A packed house witnessed the first member of some families receive a high school diploma.

And for other graduates, Sunday was the last time they will step foot in the Roundhouse.

A festive mood was in the air, but fittingly, a spirit marked by decorum, with speeches by students, educators and school board members addressing themes of truth, honor and loyalty – credos of the MHS seal.

A stirring rendition of the National Anthem by the MHS Senior National Anthem Singers set the stage, followed by heartfelt greetings from senior students Beau Ragland, Chu Htoo and Jaime Vergara.

‘Take risks and pursue your goals,” said Ragland.

MHS Principal Jacque Wyant welcomed the standing room only crowd, many decked out in their Sunday finest.

She made a point to note Armed Forces Day was May 21.

“The day honoring all those in the Armed Forces was put in place by President Harry S. Truman Aug. 31, 1949,” said Wyant. “It replaced separate days for honoring service men and women in the respective military branches.”

Wyant then asked active duty military, veterans and those scheduled to enlist to stand.

Each group received a hearty applause.

Additionally, National Honor Society students, Silver Cord awardees, class officers, honor students and honor students with distinction were recognized.

Student speakers Nate Harris, Ryan McDaniel and Elizabeth Ramirez offered their personal perspectives, with McDaniel citing his mother who had moved from the Philippines to the United States, making his educational opportunities possible.

“The class of 2016 was the best ever,” said a beaming McDaniel.

Previous classes may dispute his boast, but one thing was certain, the class of 2016 was extremely aggressive in applying for and earning scholarships and grants for further education, with $2.5 million dollars received, according to MHS officials.

Speaker and graduate Ramirez thanked district counselors, educators and all support staff for making the educational journey a special one.

A musical trio comprised of Haley Hodges, Alexis Jones and Sydnie Wohlert entertained.

Some 319 students were scheduled to receive diplomas, said MHS principal Jacque Wyant last week. That number may have changed, depending on if students meet all class requirements.

“Some (students) will graduate in June, others already graduated mid-year,” Wyant told the Times-Republican. “We’ll have to put a plan in place for June graduation for students unable to meet criteria.”

District board of education president Bea Neblock, a retired educator who worked 17 years in Marshalltown, made brief, but succinct remarks before handing out diplomas.

She told the graduates: “Be responsible, do what is right, and find something everyday to be thankful for.”

The ceremony was streamed live on the Internet and recorded by the local KDAO-TV.

It will be played back tonight at 8 p.m. and Tuesday at 7 p.m.

KDAO-TV can be seen on Ch. 12 on MediaCom and Partner Communications Cable, on Ch. 6 on Heart of Iowa Digital Video and over the air of UHF Ch. 45.

Video of graduation will be available for viewing-on-demand at Wednesday.