An overflowing stadium, an excited buzz in the air, and blue and gold robes fluttering in the breeze are signs of a traditional Olathe High School graduation. The Class of 2018 walked out onto Wilson Field on Sunday, May 20, greeted by family and friends as the school band played "Pomp and Circumstance" until all the graduates were seated.
Olathe's NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps) presented the flags and Shannon Bachman sang the national anthem.
Angel Enrique, Olathe High School's head boy, made a brief welcoming speech to the crowd and then to his peers before principal Scot Brown made the opening remarks of the ceremony.
After, Angel presented the Distinguished Alumni award to Jesse Grett, a 1957 Olathe High School graduate. During his time at Olathe High School Jesse participated in multiple sports along with being very involved with agriculture and Future Farmers of America.
"Jesse is known as a sensible, trustworthy, compassionate, and a hard working man ... over the years Jesse and his family have been actively involved in the Olathe community," Angel said.
In response, Jesse told the Class of 2018, "Sixty-one years ago I stood right there where you are at. It's been quite an experience... Thinking back, I can not remember a teacher that did not teach me something. Some of them had to pound it in but they taught me something and I'm sure in a few years you 2018 graduates will feel the same way."
Principal Brown then introduced the salutatorian and valedictorians. Michelle Jaracuaro Bautista, Selena Reyes and Angel Enrique were the 2018 co-valedictorians. Salutatorian was Shaylee Hancock.
The three valedictorians presented a speech they had prepared.
Selena Reyes started by saying, "This moment has been in the making since our first day of kindergarten ... This long journey we all embarked on was full of learning experiences, not just academically but a chance for us to learn about ourselves."
"We often complained about having a small school without knowing that this was a privilege that we were blessed with. Being a part of this school allowed us to create everlasting and sincere friendships and provided the perfect environment to attain knowledge," said Michelle Bautista.
Angel closed with, "Graduates look to your left and look to your right. Think of all the memories we have forged together. As we receive our diploma it is a baton in this race we call life. The future holds great successes, but the path will certainly come with obstacles. It is okay to fail because those who never fail never truly tried. We all have great aspirations some to be farmers, nurses, soldiers, engineers, or doctors. Whatever you choose to be, be a good one."
Guest speaker William Hamm, a social studies teacher at Olathe High School, stood in front of the 2018 graduating class with a speech he had been saving for his final year as a high school teacher. While Hamm is not retiring one of his daughters pointed out this might not be his last year, but it is theirs.
The speech Hamm gave was not for the crowd; instead, it was the last heart-to-heart with the graduating students.
"Those of you who are here today are experiencing success, and a lot more success is on its way. How you handle that success is going to speak a lot about you, but handling success is the easy part. Unfortunately, in life other things are going to come your way -- failure and hard times. How you handle those is the pillar of who you are."
Hamm used one of Sylvester Stallone's famous quotes from the movie Rocky about moving forward after being hit. William's final advice to the students was to learn from their mistakes and keep moving forward.
Following the guest speaker, Teresa Clark read out the names of 66 graduating students.
Janalyn Barba, head girl, gave a farewell address and principal Brown presented to the crowd the Olathe Class of 2018 graduates.