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Helias Catholic High School embraces new tradition for graduation

Helias Catholic High School embraces new tradition for graduation

May 20th, 2019 by Gerry Tritz in News

Helias Catholic High School graduates throw their caps in the air after officially graduating Sunday at Ray Hentges Stadium. This year was the first year the commencement ceremony was held outside at the Helias Athletic Complex.

Photo by Jenna Kieser /News Tribune.

Patricia Seifert told the Helias Catholic High School Class of 2019 that while they have goals for the future, they shouldn't be afraid to leave some of their future up to God.

"I encourage you to share your path in life with God. For most of us, there is no doubt that we could use all the help we can get."

Helias graduated 158 seniors during the Sunday ceremony, which marked two big differences from past graduations.

The ceremonies, traditionally held at St. Joseph Cathedral, were held in the Ray Hentges Stadium for the first time.

Also, the school started what it hopes to become a new tradition — letting the senior class pick the keynote speaker. They chose Seifert, a Helias English teacher who graduated from the school in 1977 and started teaching there in 1981.

Rather than words of wisdom, Seifert said she would merely give them "points to ponder."

She said she believes strongly in God's guiding force and the power of prayer.

She said she tries to remember certain things in life:

It's OK to ignore your cell phone, because talking to someone face-to-face is more important.

It's OK to ask for help.

There's no need to always be in a hurry. "When someone wants to talk to us, that conversation might very well make all the difference," she said.

Not everything needs to be posted on social media.

Avoid negative people. "I do not need to share in their unhappiness."

Admit mistakes or when you don't know something, and never stop learning. "I sincerely hope that all of you will be life-long learners," she said, adding she found the more she learns, the less she knows.

"By applying wisdom, every adversity can be a stepping stone."

Principal Kenya Fuemmeler said the class performed more than 15,000 hours of community service, and was offered a total of about $3.1 million in scholarships.

The class also had a projected average ACT score of 24.3 — 4.3 points higher than the statewide average, she said.

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She and the Rev. Stephen Jones told the graduates that they consider them part of the Helias family for life, and Jones encouraged them to come back and visit the school when possible.

Fuemmeler told the seniors that they are unique children of God and he will be with them through their difficulties and successes.

"I promise there are difficulties which you cannot imagine and unimaginable joys that you cannot see," she said. "Through each of these times, remember, he designed you in his image and likeness and you are meant to be exactly the person you are."

Thirteen members of the class were co-valedictorians: Megan Barnes, Jason Binkley, Catherine Conley, Amy Cook, James Donovan, Elizabeth Hentges, Ethan Johnson, Josh Kliethermes, Martina Lorang, Jada Oldham, Daniel Rhea, Michael Snyder and Emily Zerr.

The Father Helias Award, given to a senior boy and girl for outstanding contribution to Helias, was given to Ellie Rockers and Benjamin Stumpe.

See the News Tribune YouTube channel for video highlights from this graduation ceremony.