Congratulations Class of 2017

By PATRICK FORD

Okmulgee Times Editor

 

The saying is true that “time flies.”

A group of young adults will complete their high school careers this evening as they receive their diplomas during the 2017 commencement ceremony for Okmulgee High School.

It’s been a long journey, not only for the students, but for their parents, grandparents or guardians.

It seem like only yesterday, I was watching a young boy enter the Okmulgee Times office in our old location on East Seventh Street. His mother was an employee at the time, and as a single mother, was constantly worried about the young man who was in elementary school.

I’m sure he was a handful for her, as most boys are at that age.

However, she was always there to ensure that he did his work, listened to his teachers, and become the best student that he could be through the coming years.

In a moment, I’ll get to rest of the story.

Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to return to Okmulgee High School’s Clell Warriner Theater as teachers, administrators and families honored the many students who have excelled in their classwork at OHS.

I was truly amazed by the number of students who have made, and continue, to make their mark as Okmulgee Bulldogs.

Not only were sophomores and juniors honored for their excellent grades, but the hard work by the senior class paid off in huge dividends as many received scholarships and awards from numerous colleges, organizations, and indviduals who believe in Okmulgee High and it’s students.

Their teachers and administrators deserve a huge pat on the back. They have honed an outstanding, intelligent group of young men and women who are ready to tackle the world and many challenges.

I concur with one of the presenters who said the ‘Bulldog is definitely rising.’

Observing firsthand these students, their conduct and academic achievement, just proves the naysayers completely wrong in their assessment of what Okmulgee and its school system offers.

Yes, we do live in a different time that years before, but the hard work of underpaid professionals is paying off in seeing a generation ready to become a part of society.

Now back to my story.

That spirited young boy continued his education in Okmulgee Public Schools, and I’ve kept up with his activities including being a part of the National Honor Society and a member of the Okmulgee High School Band.

The culmination of the hard work by his mother and the young man paid off in a huge way Tuesday night when Mary Lewelllen, a representative of the Okmulgee Education Foundation, announced Nathan Gassen as the winner of the 2017 Viersen Scholarship. That award is for $10,000 per semester for eight semesters for a grand total of $80,000.

All his mother, Amber Gassen, could do was shed tears of joy and pride as she was joined by other friends and family.

That look she gave Nathan touched me as I was witness to what that young boy has now grown up to be.

But, for Nathan, along with other members of the graduating class of 2017, it’s just a beginning. 

Only you can carve your path in life.

Make wise decisions. Study hard. Work hard. And the results will be well worth the effort.

And, graduates, give a heartfelt thank you to all those who cared enough to make sure that you succeeded.

Congratulations, Nathan and the  Class of 2017.

 

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