The last graduation at Muncie Southside HS

Ryan Lipscomb is among the 52nd commencement of Southside High School about to begin at Emens Auditorium.

Bittersweet, new beginning, pride all describe last commencement

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Austin Patterson told fellow classmates about how everything changes as he spoke at the 52nd and final commencement for Southside High School.

"I saw the tears of my peers when they heard this city was not big enough for two high schools," said Patterson.

Instead of rioting, Southside student chose to excel in academics and athletics in their final year with more than 70 percent of the 185 graduates choosing post secondary education.

The  Southside graduation at Emens Auditorium attended by more than 2,000 people, was bittersweet in the fact that many students like Destany Chrisman was a third generation graduate while ironic as school board President Tony Costello who led closing Southside was handing out diplomas.

Michael Wright, whose grandson, Marquese Bell graduated, also described the event as bittersweet and was saddened by the school closing. But he was still glad Muncie schools found a way to keep the buses.

 Schaivon Nevings, who was master of ceremonies for graduation, told fellow students the school closing should not get in the way of graduation.

"Commencement is a beginning, not an ending," he said.

Nevings said he would miss the relationships with students, teachers and others and hoped what he had learned would build new relationships for careers and family.

Elisha North, class valedictorian, recalled only knowing three people when he first started as a freshman at Southside. But he built on that and became friends with others as he excelled in academics.

North, who received multiple scholarships including the Oliver Storer Scholarship, plans to attend Taylor University and major in chemistry.

Principal Rebecca Thompson pointed out the achievement of a pair of students, Craig Monroe, who won a state bowling championship as a junior and Kaitlyn White, a three sport athlete, who guided Southside to other championships.

After a decade of presiding over graduations, Thompson told students, "You are our legacy, make us proud."

Supt. Tim Heller lauded the class for its academic achievement, gathering $3.5 million in scholarships with more than 70 percent of the 185 graduations seeking post secondary education.

The chief administrator also talked about the smooth transition toward one high school similar to the closing of Northside High School in 1987 that left two high schools.

The graduating class participated in a senior breakfast Tuesday morning where scholarships and class honors were awarded. Just the talk of other milestones like the last homecoming during football season , the recent spring prom and other events brought tears to the eyes of some graduates.

Heller said the 52 years of awards and trophies would mostly be preserved at Southside that will become a middle school this fall.