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June 10, 2014 • Headlines

Friends Shelbie Huffmeyer, Brooklyn Ronsheim, Sydney Keene, and Lindsey Sutton pose for pictures in the gym.
Pictured are senior members of the 2014 Jac-Cen-Del graduating class. (This is a bonus photo not found in the newspaper!)
From left, Anthony Eckstein, Tanner Volz and Shane Youngman hang out in the lunchroom one last time before the commencement ceremony.
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Mix of emotions displayed from students, parents
Jac-Cen-Del Class of 2014 celebrates!

Mary Mattingly

“Today is not only graduation and leaving this place behind. Today is about becoming adults and not relying on others to push us to our goals. Our lives are in our own hands now. No one can tell us what we can and cannot accomplish. It is all up to us to take what we learned in a small school and use it out in the big world.”

2014 JCD graduates celebrate


These wise words came from the Jac-Cen-Del Class of 2014 President Lindsey Sutton as she addressed her 72 classmates Saturday afternoon at the JCD graduation. Family, friends, teachers, coaches, school board and administration members packed the gym to congratulate the class on their accomplishments and wish them well for their future. As part of the JCD commencement tradition, the class 50 years ago was invited to participate, and many members from the Class of ’64 were introduced by JCD Superintendent Dr. Leanna Phillippe.

After the 73 graduates marched in and took their seat, the superintendent noted how important this Class of 2014 has been in the culture of the school, and thanked parents and staff for their collective effort and dedication in raising these young men and women. She then recognized almost all of the students by name for various qualities or actions, from being risk takers to showing preseverance or even kindness to others, or for the many extra activities they joined in, such as being class aides or student athletes. Several students were asked to stand for playing two sports at school. The four seniors from the baseball team were recognized, and Phillippe noted their sectional championship and first regional game win that morning. The two foreign exchange students were also among the graduates. Two going into the military, Tyler French and Shane Youngman, were asked to stand, and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Outstanding seniors from service clubs such as the Sunshine Society, National Honor Society, Student Council, and STAAND were also given their due. Students who worked on the class video, were in the band, choir or in the recent play also were cited.

Phillippe said, “I want you seniors to look at your classmates. This is the last time you will all be assembled as you are today. Enjoy this experience and cherish your relationship you developed at JCD.” She thanked them for allowing her to be part of the many memories, and for their inspiration. “Congratulations on your day. Follow your passions and continue to be fearless and I wish you the best of luck in the future.”

Four seniors joined the JCD Singers to present a rendition of the popular “Royals” song, followed by the band, led by Glen Unklesbay, performing “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

The two top academic students addressed their classmates. Salutatorian Emily Gunter did so in the way of a poem, which began, “I was voted ‘most quiet,’ I guess it is true. Giving long speeches is not what I do…Thank you, dear parents, relatives and friends, We already know this is a beginning, not an end.” She continued and the last stanza was from the Disney movie “Tangled”: “Go, live your dream! Congratulations Class of 2014!”

Valedictorian Austin Wagner spoke about the paths taken, of classmates stepping out of their comfort zone, and mentioned a highlight event being the recent senior trip to New York City and Washington DC. “We are the drivers and we in charge of our own destiny….make your own path, chart your destiny, and be the person you were meant to be.” He ended by quoting the character Effie in the movie “Hunger Games”: “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Principal Bert Martini, in one of his last official duties as principal since he is moving to a school in Ohio, and Phillippe then presented the diplomas as school board members introduced the graduates. Of the 73 graduates, 23 graduated with academic honors, three with technical honors and 38 with Core 40 diplomas.

In just over an hour, the commencement was over, marking the end of their four year school career. Many parents cheered and snapped photos, many beamed with pride and a few were happy with relief. Some shed joyful tears. Austin Wagner’s mom, Flora, echoed what many felt of the moment, “It’s a mix of emotions. It’s bittersweet. “ He’s the last of her three children to graduate.

New graduate Megan Wilson hugged her mom hard, and said afterward that commencement was everything she thought it would be “And more!” Classmate Sydney Keene reflected, somewhat wise beyond her 18 years, “You don’t realize how fast four years go. It seems like yesterday I was a freshman!”

The event culminated in the back of the gym as the graduates tossed their caps high in celebration of their high school accomplishments and for what the future holds. As Lindsey Sutton asked of her classmates at the end of her speech, “Seize today because this is where a whole new chapter of our lives begins.”

The class motto seemed fitting: “Hakuna Matata .” It’s a Swahili phrase popularized in the Disney movie “Lion King” which means “no worries.”

CLASS FLOWER: Blue Hibiscus
CLASS COLORS: Purple and teal
CLASS SONG: “Photograph” by Nickelback

Wagner, Gunter:
Jac-Cen-Del's top two scholars

Mary Mattingly

Valedictorian: Austin Wagner

It must be in the genes. Austin Wagner became the third member of his family to be named valedictorian. His two older sisters, Val and Becca, were both valedictorians of their JCD high school graduating class (Val in 2009 and Becca in 2011). When asked if he felt pressure to do the same, Austin didn’t hesitate, “Definitely! And, being the only boy in the family I’d get teased by my uncles saying,’ can you do it?’ ” he added.

Austin Wagner


Pictured left is Austin Wagner, valedictorian.

He did it. His 4.19 GPA grabbed him the top spot. The son of Flora and Dennis Wagner of Osgood, he has always put his studies first but also became involved in several school activities. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, student council, Spanish Club, math and history academic teams, SADD and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also played two sports, golf and basketball. When he’s not involved in school activities he likes to work on his uncle’s farm.

What was his favorite memory of the past four years? “Our senior trip to New York and Washington DC.” That’s because he hung out with a different set of people, and he enjoyed getting to know these other classmates. Favorite teacher? “Mr. Westerman. He taught calculus, algebra 2 and physics. “He really knew what he was doing. He made it seem so easy,” Wagner said in admiration.

Probably his hardest class was biology, which could be why he’s not following in his sisters’ footsteps into the health field. (Val Parker is in her first year of medical school at IU, and Becca, a Marion University senior, is studying clinical lab research.) Wagner plans to major in business administration with a minor in Spanish at the University of Indianapolis. He is comfortable with U of I since his oldest sister and his brother-in-law Chris attended and likes that it is a smaller school (5,500 student population). His dream job, at this point in his life, is to work at a major corporation such as Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. The 18-year-old wants to continue studying Spanish, since he took four years at JCD, but also thinks it would be good for his future business career.

Salutatorian: Emily Gunter

Emily Gunter is going to Purdue University as an undecided major. But that’s just to keep her opportunities open. She thinks she may end up in something with soil and water conservation or agriculture as she has had experience with both, she said.

Emily Gunter
Pictured right is Emily Gunter, salutatorian.

Gunter is JCD’s salutatorian and holds a 3.9 GPA. Her speech Saturday was a poem she wrote, noting she was voted most quiet by the class; however, she was an active student. A National Honor Society member, she has used her four years of high school to the fullest, having joined drama, art, FFA, flags and band, 4-H (10-year member), academic team and Sunshine Club. She is also the class vice president. Gunter advises incoming freshmen to be involved in community service. It not only helps others, but can help toward college scholarships. Her fondest memory of high school was prom, both her junior and senior proms. “It was a lot of fun.” While she never had this teacher, she was inspired by Abbey Thole. “She was just so outgoing and hopeful with her students every day,” Gunter said.

Gunter, the daughter of Nora and Jerry Gunter, has an older sister, Olivia who graduated from Purdue University and was in the top 10 while at JCD. The 18-yea- old says the most enjoyable class in her four years was also probably the hardest, calculus. “It was interesting, but also challenging,” she said. When she’s not doing schoolwork or extracurricular activities, Gunter likes to hang out with her friends, but also likes to cook, bake and garden.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

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