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June 4, 2013

Hats off to Milan Class of 2013

Top student overcomes special needs

Mary Mattingly


The Class of 2013 celebrates their graduation. Jason Hawkins gives a thumbs up after receiving his diploma. Also pictured are Brittany Fassold, Robert Stranzin and Tyler Raisor.

Nate Greer, dressed in a black graduation robe and adorned with gold colored banners and medals of academic honor, stood at the valedictorian podium Saturday morning, June 1, at Milan High School gym, having reached the pinnacle of academic high school success. Nate delivered his valedictorian address, a great achievement for any student, but an amazing one considering Nate has Asperger's Syndrome, part of the autism disorder.

Nate's mom, Sue Greer, could not hold back her tears, even before he marched in with his 80 classmates to "'Pomp and Circumstance."'

"'He will tell you that God, us (his parents), Special Olympics and church is what got him through,"' she said. His parents have fought his battles, since he was adopted at 3 months, and at 3 years, diagnosed with Asperger's. "'You would never believe he'd be standing up there. But 'can't' was never a word in our house,"' she commented, sitting next to his birth mother, his four siblings, and husband Tony on the second row of the bleachers. She held his framed preschool graduation photo in her lap, tissues, and a camera. Special Olympics friends were nearby, screaming his name, "'We love you Nate! Way to go!"' Nate didn't have trouble academically, but he credits Special Olympics with helping him develop his lacking social and communication skills. (See top student profiles.)

In his speech, Nate reminded his classmates of how fast the four years went, and"' to use the accomplishments and mistakes of the past as motivation to the future."' He thanked his middle school teacher, Linda Oelker, the same teacher his mom said would hug him knowing he was sensitive to touch, to get him used to it. He freely hugged her back these last few days, his mom said.

Greer's address followed salutatorian's Russell Pitts, who graciously thanked staff and parents for their guidance, and recapped memories of high school. He quoted Aristotle, saying "'The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet."'

Alumni Award recipient Tim Heller, a '61 MHS graduate, and current superintendent of Muncie schools, told students to "'do something…make a difference in your life and someone else's,"' and added, "'I challenge you to become community leaders, and don't forget where you came from."'

Milan Schools Supt. Dr. Thomas Reale congratulated the class of 2012. "'It's the first milestone in your life. But in the great scheme of things, it's not a big deal. The big deal is what you do next."' He advised them to not have regrets, to not let this be the high point of their life.

The students were presented diplomas by Reale and Principal Paul Ketcham, followed by music by the choir. The 2013 class motto was "'The moment may be temporary, but the memory is forever."' The class song selected was "'Tattoos on the Town"' by Jason Aldean.

Senior class president Zach Meyer led the class in the traditional changing of the tassels. After they left the gym with their diplomas, they tossed up their caps outside in celebration of their four years, and moreover, the promise of what's to come.

Editor's Note: We will feature S. Ripley's graduation in Thursday's The Versailles Republican.

Grand opening for museum, parade Saturday

Submitted Article

Memories and stories will be flowing Saturday, June 8 as members of the original Milan basketball team that won the Indiana Basketball State Championship in 1954, spend the day in Milan in celebration of the opening of the new Milan '54 Hoosiers Basketball Museum.

Angelo Pizzo, who wrote the movie "'Hoosiers"', which was inspired by the "'David and Goliath"' story will also be on hand, as well as some of the actors from the movie.

Those familiar with the original game and team will recognize the names of those expected Saturday: Glen Butte, Eva Combs (wife of the assistant coach Marcus Combs), Ray Craft, Jinky Craft, Barter Dobson, Oliver Jones, Bill Jordan, Clarence Kelly, Pat Marshall, Bobby Plump Roger Schroder, Gene White, and Mary Lou Wood (wife of coach Marvin Wood).

From the cast of "'Hoosiers"' Brad Long "'Buddy"', Steve Hollar "'Rade"', Tom Marshall "'referee-Terhune"', Richard Robinson "'South Bend Player #45"', Marsha Duke "'cheerleader-Oolitic"', Don Burchett "'reporter"', Gloria Hensley Murray "'extra"' (a 1942 graduate of Milan High School), and Gary Long "'coach-Linton"' are expected to gather for the big event.

Located in the former State Bank of Milan, 201 W. Carr Street, the new museum has more space than ever to showcase the memorabilia that has been collected over the years representing the 1954 Milan team that won over the much larger Muncie Central in the Indiana State Basketball Championship.

The events will kick off at 10 a.m. with a car show featuring 1950-60s vehicles from the Hoosier Hill Car Club. The car show will be located in the Milan High School parking lot in Milan. Others are invited to bring their 50-60s vehicles as well.

"'Hoosiers"' will be shown in the Milan High School gym on the big screen beginning at 10:30 a.m., for a free will donation. At 1 p.m. the unveiling of the original 1954 State Championship banners will be held in the gym. They were just restored, with funding from the Rising Sun Regional Foundation.

Following the unveiling, a parade will begin at 1:30, going from the high school down Main Street in Milan to the museum, carrying the 1954 team and "'Hoosiers"' actors attending. Everyone is encouraged to line Main and Carr streets and cheer them on, just like in 1954.

The official ribbon cutting for the museum will be at 2 p.m., on the steps of the new Milan '54 Hoosiers Museum, 201 W. Carr St, Milan. "'We're so excited to finally be at this point!"' noted Marianne Wiggers, Milan '54 board president, "'Many people have worked for a very long time to make this happen, especially Roselyn McKittrick, who we greatly appreciate."'

An autograph session will be held from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the Milan Town Hall on Carr Street. Those wanting autographs can pick up items to get autographed in the Museum, or at the autograph session. The cost to those wanting autographs is $15/person, with the funds going to help support the museum.

Gayle L. Johnson, author of "'The Making of Hoosiers, How a Small Movie from the Heartland Became one of America's Favorite Films"' will also be present, to sell and sign her book. Several other autographed books will be available, including Norman Jones' "'Growing Up in Indiana: The Culture and Hoosier Hysteria Revisited"'.

Games for all ages will be held from 2:30-5:30 on the blocked-off W. Carr Street, in front of the museum. Milan High School Student Council and National Honor Society members are organizing the games for the day. The Ripley County Community Foundation is sponsoring the games for the day.

An entertaining auction will be held at 4:30 with donated items, including two tickets from Perfect North Slopes, a bowling shirt that Bill Jordan wore in a movie (plus an autographed photo), the book "'Last of the Small Town Heroes"' signed by the author and many of the 1954 team, an autographed blu-ray of "'Hoosiers"', a basketball poster, and a three-hour birthday party rental at the Tyson Activity Center in Versailles.

Dancers Chris and Laura Ault will also be on hand right after the auction to share their knowledge of '50s dances to prepare visitors for the evening Sock Hop.

Get your good socks out for a special Sock Hop at the Milan High School gym from 7-9 p.m. The American Kings Band from Cincinnati will be on hand to play rock n' roll tunes from the 1950-60s. Free will donations will be accepted for the Milan '54 Hoosiers Museum. The dance is being sponsored by the Ripley County Tourism Bureau.

More information on the day's events is available by calling the Ripley County Tourism Bureau, 888-747-5394, or www.ripleycountytourism.com . Information about the Milan '54 Hoosiers Museum is available at www.milan54.org or calling 812-654-2772

To read these and more articles pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local store or subscribe by clicking on the link above or by calling 812-689-6364.
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