GCHS graduates: continue to strive for greatness, create community

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Students move their tassels to the other side to signify they have graduated Saturday at Garden City High School during the Art and Communications and Public Service Academies commencement ceremony. Two graduation ceremonies were held on the day, to comply with COVID-19 limitations, with the second being for the Trade and Health Academies.

The Garden City High School class of 2021 has officially graduated. 

Two graduation ceremonies were held Saturday for the class. 

Riley Metheney, senior speaker, said the story of the the class of 2021 is based on a quote by author Sarah Adams, "I'm an equal of the world not because not because of the cars I drive, the size of the TV I own, the weight I can bench press or the calculus equations I can solve. I am equal to all I need because of the kindness in my heart."

Everyone they meet they have an impact on in one way or another an although each class member has had a different experience at GCHA their kindness and generosity have connected them throughout their high school careers.

"To me and to the entire class of 2021, being a buffalo means sticking together through the tough parts while also being grateful for the good and most of all being grateful for each other," she said. 

Graduating seniors wave to family and friends as they enter the GCHS gym Saturday during the processional as the Trade and Health Academies graduation. Face masks were required for all attending the ceremony.

Fellow senior speaker Jessica Pammenter agrees, and shared a quote from Steven Schwartz's musical Wicked, to sum up what the class of 2021 means to each other, "because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Metheney advised the class of 2021 to keep pushing and striving for greatness and to keep opening doors for themselves, because everyone matters.

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"Take all of the lessons you learned here about life, love and even math and go out and teach others, because it matters," she said.

Pammenter said what she learned during her time at GCHS is that the saying it takes a village to raise a child is correct -- community is important in life and is what it means to be a buffalo.

Garden City High School graduating seniors in the Trade and Health Academies line up in the auxiliary gym Saturday after the commencement ceremony to get their actual paper diplomas.

"While we may not know every person's name, we are all united in our work ethic and our drive to do well in life," she said. "GCHS pushes every student, every day, to realize their full potential, and I believe that that will stay with us for many years to come."

Pammenter hopes that the class of 2021 will remember the community they all come from and how it's shaped them, but that they push forward unafraid and find their own way. 

"Be brave and chase after your dreams no matter what they are," she said. 

Steve Nordby, GCHS principal said his message to the class of 2021 is simple: continue working to make their part of the world a better place to be.

The class of 2021 reminds Nordby of a sermon by Martin Luther King, Jr. called the drum major instinct, which explains that everyone wants to be important, to surpass others, achieve distinction and to be a leader. 

Steve Quakenbush addresses the graduates at the GCHS Arts and Communications and Public Service Academies commencement on Saturday. Quakenbush, class of 1974, is the 2021 local recipient in to the GCHS Hall of Fame.

Nordby hopes the graduates continue to strive for greatness by serving the world as best they can.

"You don't have to have a college degree to serve, you don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato or Aristotle to serve, you don't know to know Einstein's theory of relativity serve, you don't need to know the second law of thermodynamics and physics to serve. Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great," he said. "You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love and you can be that servant."  

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Steve Quakenbush, GCHS class of 1974 graduate and 2021 Hall of Fame local Inductee, shared five lessons he's learned since he graduated 47 years ago to the graduating class: think critically, trust people, share credit rather than seeking it, respect and seek courage and work hard. 

Hard work is important, Quakenbush said, and the best advice he's ever received deals with working hard.

Families and friends take photographs as they congratulate graduates outside Garden City High School Saturday as the post-graduation celebrations begin.

It comes from a plaque that has been displayed in his office for 31 years "none of the secrets of life will work unless you do."  

"If you do that then I hope that one day you will be here 47 years from now sharing your own secrets of life and accepting the recognition that's been given so far to nearly 70 members of the Garden City High School Hall of Fame," he said.

Quakenbush spoke at the morning ceremony for the Arts and Communications and the Public Service Academies.  For evening ceremony for the Trade and Health Academies, the out of town Hall of Fame recipient, the former Dr. James Fishback, class of 1973, was represented by his wife, Mae, and brother, John Fishback.

The annual Principal Leadership award was given to a pair of graduating seniors.  Alex De Paz and Tam Nguyen were chosen as the 2021 recipients.