MANSON - This time of year brings huge changes to the life of a high school senior. But the adjustment can be pretty tough for their parents, too.
Beth Butcher was one of the many parents at Manson Northwest Webster High School on Sunday, to watch her daughter Amber Butcher receive a diploma. This is Beth Butcher's second child to graduate from MNW, but she said it never gets any easier.
"It gets sadder every time," she said.
What does a parent think when she sees her only daughter walk across that stage? For a moment, Beth Butcher had no words to describe it.
"We're proud," said her husband, Joe Butcher.
"We're very proud," said Beth Butcher. "Of all her accomplishments, and everything she's achieved. And it's exciting."
MNW English teacher Kim Keller is also a second-time parent of a graduate.
"You think after the first one, you'll be ready for it, but you still get more emotional than you think you will," Keller said. "I'm already getting a little choked up just thinking about it.
"You just never know what they day's going to bring when it finally arrives. You just stay excited for the future. It's going to be fine."
The graduates showed the whole spectrum of emotions as well, from joy to tears. After the ceremony, graduate Harlie Jud wasn't sure how she felt.
"I don't know; it's not really settling in yet," Jud said. "It will be really different going to college next year from high school. But everybody's got to do it so - it's a big change, but I think we can do it."
After the graduates processed in to "Pomp and Circumstance," and a welcoming address by Superintendent Mark Egli, the choir sang the traditional "Thy Will Be Done."
Brian Willer then directed the band in what is likely his last performance at MNW. Willer is moving next year to Ames.
Three teachers are retiring this year, Egli said. High school science teacher David Freed is retiring for the third time; also retiring are elementary special education associate Sandy Hokinson, and high school secretary Cheryl Huss.
Seniors Zach McGill and Trevor Schreier addressed the class, with a message of hope for the future.
"I know today is going to be a great day," McGill said. "We have an exceptional group here today, which I know will push our world in directions it's never thought of before."
He advised his classmates to always keep an open mind, take initiative, and be patient. The last two must exist in a balance; although nothing will come to those who just wait for their dreams to be handed to them, McGill said, one should not rush forward without thinking.
"Just because your dream in life may have brushed against the tips of your fingers, doesn't mean you won't be chasing it for a bit longer. Be thoughtful and take the right steps in life, so as not to lose sight of that dream. Do not rush and fall on your face, but also do not be too slow, or you might start losing sight of it... Pace yourself; you still have your whole life ahead of you to grasp your dream," he said.
Schreier talked about how the six pillars of "Character Counts" had influenced his class throughout their years at the school. They learned to show fairness and respect in P.E. class, he said, and citizenship during homecoming while decorating the class float. They learned caring through the example of their teachers.
"Our class has shown responsibility through the years," Schreier said. "We are responsible for putting almost half the teachers into retirement in the last couple years."
A bit of advice, given by Keller before the ceremony, fits in perfectly with the speakers' hopes as they enter the future.
"I tell my high school students, you know, some people tell you high school is the best days of your life," Keller said. "High school is not the best days of your life. You shouldn't peak at the age of 18; you know better, more exciting things are ahead."
Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org