Finishing a chapter, 47 Bulldogs walk across the stage toward life after high school

The hats came off for 47 Wheatland High School students who passed across the stage to officially finish their high school careers. The class of 2022 are now headed to the next chapter in their lives.

WHEATLAND – For 47 Wheatland High School graduates, the walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma marked an end to an educational chapter in their lives. After 13 years of education, they are ready for their next steps.

The first day of school many moons ago had apprehensive kids having to leave moms and dads to journey into the unknown. History is kind of repeating itself as now the journey into an unknown chapter still has some apprehensive and parents not wanting to watch them walk away.

At 2 p.m. last Sunday the final high school bell was tolling and within an hour, give or take a few minutes, Bulldog graduates were tossing their caps and cheering as high school finally came to an end. One student asked, “Wasn’t it just yesterday we were swinging on those swing sets at Libbey and wishing that recess lasted a little longer?”

The class of 2022 had the white Carnation as their class flower, Black and Gold as their class colors, Taylor Swift’s song 22 as their motto in music and their class motto which was both imaginative, humorous and true – “We just spent 113,880 hours of our lives to receive a paper and a handshake.”

As WHS music teacher Evan Bradley’s concert band, minus his seniors played Pomp and Circumstance, the procession began with the parade of graduates decked out in black caps and gowns with yellow or purple sashes. Some students wore honor cords, National Honor Society medallions, blood donor cords, or 4-H cords. Some wore the distinction of being part of the student council.

Some of the tops of the hats, which were pretty much boring in days of yore were decorated with images, sayings, colorful flowers or keepsakes. Many of the students also added fashion statements with their footwear, a majority wearing vintage high-top tennis shoes.

Once seated, the nearly half-century of students, WHS principal Josh Sandlian welcomed the packed house consisting of students, family, parents, graduates and friends. There was a presentation made to retiring staff member Tracy deRyk and well-wishes for teachers who are not going to be a part of Wheatland High School next year including Brice McIntosh, Dylan Hancey, Cassandra Swisher, Jennifer Raser and Susan Putnam.

The Wheatland High School Entertainers under the direction of Chris Leathers performed two pieces of music, “You Do Not Walk Alone” by Elaine Hadenberg and “Baba Yetu” arranged by Roger Emerson. The WHS band in addition to the processional, did a special song that brought back the seniors to perform one more time with the song “Dark Heart” by Randall Standridge.

A special presentation of four scholarships were given in the name of Dallin Gunter who died of childhood cancer and who would have graduated with the Wheatland High School graduating class of 2022. The class presented the school with a metal cutout of a Bulldog with Gunter’s name engraved on the metal plate. The scholarship was called “Cowboy Up Dallin Gunter Memorial Scholarship,” and the Recipients were Bobijo Cordingly, Jake Hicks, Matthews Streets and Curtis Nickle.

In addition, each member of the graduating class carried in a yellow rose in Gunter’s honor and placed them in a vase in the graduates section of the gymnasium along with the metal cutout.

Chloe Palmer, the 2022 class Salutatorian received her medal and then addressed the class with a little dancing, a little humor and a little wisdom. In her speech to her classmates, she passed along 22 lessons that she learned and shared with the audience.

“No. 1,” Palmer began. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. People are not who you think they are. Was often mistaken for a shy, introverted student and people learned that it was not the case.”

Palmer then brought a chuckle from the crowd as she told the story of telling her family that she was exchanging her pom-poms for a wrestling uniform.

Daniel Collins who was the 2022 class Valedictorian and well-known satirist around Wheatland had everybody stand and stretch following his instructions for the perfect way to alleviate stress and stiff muscles. Once he had everyone in a standing position with what appeared to be people applauding, he pulled out a cellphone, took a picture and told everyone that his lifelong story would be the time he got a standing ovation from the crowd as he gave his graduation speech.

He then did receive an ovation and loud laughter, which is apropos for Collins who encouraged people to get through the tough times with laughter. He also quoted his grandmother as he described his time as a student in high school.

“I don’t know what that was,” he quoted her as saying. “But it sure was good.”

Jeanette Wallace was introduced by WHS senior class president Lupita Perez Fabela as the “Teacher of the Year.”

Wallace, a class favorite got up and addressed each student from the graduating class with candor and humor, having each student laughing and shaking their heads. It was obvious as to why she was chosen as their choice for teacher of the year.

The class was then presented to the school board and each student turned  from a senior to a graduate with simple walk across the stage and a diploma in their hand. The tassels were moved, the caps were thrown, and the crowd cheered as the class song was played. And just like that, Wheatland boasted 47 more students who would come back to Platte County for reunions – for the rest of their lives.

Congratulations 2022 graduates, you’ve made Platte County and Wyoming very proud. Go. Make a difference in your world and continue to amaze us all.

The hats came off for 47 Wheatland High School students who passed across the stage to officially finish their high school careers. The class of 2022 are now headed to the next chapter in their lives.

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