143rd Commencement

143rd Commencement
143rd Commencement

As the sun set in downtown Kokomo on June 2nd, approximately 420 Kokomo High School students – donning blue caps and gowns – exited Memorial Gym with a new title: Kokomo High School Alumni.

Following the 143rd Commencement Exercises, graduates from the KHS Class of 2017 embraced family members and posed for photos in front of the Kokomo Wildkats pickup truck (a red 1949 Chevrolet step-side truck restored by students at the Kokomo Area Career Center).

This year’s graduating class earned more than $3.5 million in scholarships. Seven students earned Super GPAs (12.0 or above on a 12-point scale), including Noah Burket, Kenny Burton, Rodrig Naska (International student from Albania), Demitra Novinger, Lana Pham, Aditi Sood, and Ann Stahl. Forty students were named Bronze Plaque Honor Graduates for maintaining an overall GPA of 10.25, with no semester grade below a “B”.

Lana Pham is the Class of 2017 Valedictorian. Lana, the daughter of Linh and Gina Pham, earned a 12.833 GPA while at KHS, and plans to attend Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis on a full-ride scholarship through the Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program to study exercise science, with the goal of earning a doctorate in physical therapy. The three-time IHSAA High Jump State Qualifier will be the first female high jumper for the IUPUI Women’s Track & Field team.

Aditi Sood is this year’s Salutatorian. Aditi, the daughter of Sanjeev and Seema Sood, earned a 12.824 GPA while at KHS, and plans to attend the University of Evansville as one of eight Indiana students selected for the Baccalaureate to Doctor of Medicine Program. Aditi hopes to specialize in orthopedic surgery after completing medical school, while also working in the policy sector of medicine “to help make the system more efficient.” Aditi was named an Indiana Academic All-Star, and is a National Merit Scholarship winner.

KHS graduated its second class of IB Diploma Program candidates this year. Five students graduated as IB Diploma Program candidates, including Edgar Coapman, Miguel Escobar Saldarriaga (International student from Colombia), Demitra Novinger, Madison Reed, and Sarah Reel.

Demitra graduates as the top IB Diploma Program student at KHS. Demitra, the daughter of Dawn Myers and Roy Novinger, is a Super GPA graduate, who plans to attend the Ball State University Honors College on a Presidential Scholarship to study Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education, with endorsements in Spanish and English as foreign languages. Demitra hopes to become certified as an International Baccalaureate teacher, and would love to work at a bilingual school.

Eight additional KHS students graduated as IB Career Related Diploma Program candidates. These students include Linda Coe, Shelby Myers, Mary Payne, Zora Rockeymoore, Connor Sanburn, Sebastian Shumaker, Lydia Spencer, and Tyler Swygert.

Linda graduates as the top IB Career Related Program student. Linda, the daughter of Gregory and Connie Coe, plans to attend Ball State University to pursue a nursing degree, after earning her Certified Nursing Assistant license through the Kokomo Area Career Center. Linda hopes to become a labor and delivery nurse while pursuing a Master’s degree to become a specialized Nurse Practitioner in Obstetrics.

The KHS Class of 2017 features 30 International students from around the globe. These KHS graduates represent Albania, Brazil, China, Columbia, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The KHS Class of 2017 also includes 70 students from Twilight School, which is a flexible program designed to help people earn a high school diploma. This alternative program is open to anyone, ages 16 to 100. Twilight School gives people a second chance to graduate and to walk across the stage at Memorial Gym to receive a Kokomo High School diploma. Since Twilight School began in 2012, more than 300 students in the program have earned Kokomo High School diplomas.

During her commencement address, Aditi encouraged all of her classmates – regardless of where life leads them, whether that be college, the workforce, or the military – to continue their pursuit of lifelong learning.

“Being a lifelong learner is about more than just scanning a magazine article or listening to the news,” Aditi noted in her address. “Lifelong learners are dedicated to the pursuit of constantly making themselves better people. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and re-evaluate their decisions. They are never satisfied with what they have already achieved. Instead, they push themselves to greater heights.”

In her address, Lana encouraged her classmates to be themselves and embrace their imperfections.

“Distance runner and three-time Olympic gold medalist Emil Zatopek once said, ‘Beauty comes when someone who is imperfect but has great desire… achieves great results,’” Lana explained to her peers. “To the Kokomo High School graduating Class of 2017, we have achieved great results despite our imperfections. Along the way, coaches, teachers, parents, friends, family members, and mentors have helped each one of us achieve so that we might dream greatly. What I have learned while traveling along this path are the fundamentals, such as math, English, procrastinating, and how to dance at formal… but most importantly, I’ve learned that people influence people.”

Lana concluded her address with this message to the Class of 2017: “We all had our own paths to reach this milestone. Not one person took the same path, and everyone created a different story. At the end of the day, to be successful, you have to be yourself.”

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