GREENSBURG – The Class of 2017 at North Decatur Jr.-Sr. High School has officially come and gone. The Class will be remembered as the 50th graduating class of North Decatur.

On Saturday morning, the now graduated students gathered to collect their diploma and hear from the class valedictorian, salutatorian, guest speaker and more.

All speakers collectively kept the commencement ceremony along with tradition, but their speeches were anything but traditional.

Retiring math teacher Fred Chase was the first speaker of the morning. Opening with a bell-ringer to lighten the mood, Chase kept the speech from too structured.

“What did the little acorn say when it grew up,” Chase asked. “Geometry. Gee, I’m a tree.”

With the crowd behind him and loose, Chase dove into advice for the graduates based on his life experiences of going to college and graduating before becoming a teacher at North Decatur for 42 years.

Chase’s used help from a song from his era, as he explained. The song was “Rock n’ Roll Heaven” by the Righteous Brothers.

In the song’s lyrics hides a special message.

“There’s a spotlight waiting, no matter who you are, because everybody’s got a song to sing, everyone’s a star.”

Chase challenged the graduates to find a place where the song applies to them. In his own life, he found his spotlight in the classroom.

“I never wanted to be a superintendent like Mr. Budd,” Chase said. “I never wanted to be a principal like Mr. McCoy and I certainly never wanted to be assistant principal in charge of discipline like Mr. Powers. I enjoyed the classroom and I enjoyed waking up every day not saying that I was going to work --- I was going to school.”

Class valedictorian Kelsey Moorman avoided sticking to clichés with her speech by admitting that she did not have much advice for her fellow graduates.

Without knowledge of the future, Moorman left the class with motivational words instead of simple advice with the help of a few of her favorite animated characters.

The motivation was rounded out by the wise words of Dory from Finding Nemo.

“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Salutatorian Joseph Seiter provided comedic relief for the ceremony. Before diving into his speech, Seiter admitted that he first was interested in knowing how far behind him the student ranked third in the class was, because he was not too fond of public speaking which comes with being the salutatorian.

Seiter did not choose a conventional figure to help in finding what advice he wanted to leave his classmates with. While many students go for past presidents, civil rights leaders and innovators, Seiter chose the words of Ron Swanson (a main character on the former NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation).

Seiter read Swanson’s quote, “Don’t half ass two things, whole ass one thing”.

Class Statistics

The Class of 2017 made waves with their success in high school. This is clear based on the fact that 50 percent of the graduates earned an Academic Honors diploma and 20 percent earned a technical honors diploma.

Principal McCoy shared more of what the class will now set out to do after graduation.

52 percent of the graduates will now go to a 4-year college.

24 percent of the graduates plan to attend a 2-year college.

Seven percent of the graduates will attend a technical school.

13.6 percent of the graduates will now enter the workforce.

One student has determined that the military service is his calling.

Between all of the students leaving to go to school, a total of 18 different colleges and university will have a North Decatur graduate at the school.

The graduates combined to amass $1.5 million dollars in scholarship money, which lead to a large ovation from the crowd in attendance.

With high school now behind them, the Class of 2017 from North Decatur Jr.-Sr. High School will look to find their spotlight and shine wherever their life may lead them.

Contact: James Howell Jr., 812-663-3111 x 7011; james.howell@greensburgdailynews.com