Archive for Friday, September 11, 2009

Tonganoxie student receives surprise graduation ceremony

Brandon Parker, Tonganoxie High School athletics director, congratulates Austin Stone for getting his diploma. Stone, who is now blind after complications arose from medical gas he received while having his wisdom teeth removed, was helped at Tonganoxie High School by his father, Lance Stone.

Brandon Parker, Tonganoxie High School athletics director, congratulates Austin Stone for getting his diploma. Stone, who is now blind after complications arose from medical gas he received while having his wisdom teeth removed, was helped at Tonganoxie High School by his father, Lance Stone.

September 11, 2009


Tonganoxie rallies around graduating student

Following a tragedy six months ago, Tonganoxie gathered today to celebrate one student's path to graduation. Enlarge video

— Traditionally, homecoming week at Tonganoxie High School is packed with events to fill students with school spirit.

But this year, one particular homecoming event filled the school to the brim with Chieftain pride: Austin Stone was coming back to get his diploma.

“It means a lot to me,” Stone said about having the entire student body present for his special graduation ceremony Thursday. “It does a lot of good for me.”

Last March, Stone was hospitalized after complications arose from medical gas he received while having his wisdom teeth removed. The incident left him blind, hard of hearing and has caused problems with his speech. It also left his time at THS incomplete because he wasn’t able to graduate in May with his class.

Stone’s father, Lance, did attend commencement ceremonies in May and accepted his son’s diploma. But he returned it because he wanted his son to have that opportunity.

“When his dad walked across the stage — no offense, Lance — that just wasn’t good enough for us,” Jamie Carlisle, THS principal, said Thursday. “We just wanted Austin to do it for us.”

About a week ago, Austin Stone returned home from Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb.

Plans were made in secret to give Stone the graduation he never had. On Thursday, students thought they were going to be a part of a homecoming assembly at the Tonganoxie Performing Arts Center — until they saw their teachers walking down the aisle in their graduation gowns, followed by Stone.

Stone was wearing a red graduation gown and mortarboard, and his father was at his side guiding him to the stage.

Some students cheered; some students cried. But all students were on their feet, giving Stone a thundering ovation.

Lance Stone said his son is still recovering but doing better than expected.

Now that he has his diploma, Stone said he has plans to attend South Dakota State University and study wildlife biology.

His friends have no doubt he’ll attain his goals.

“He can get through anything he wants,” said DJ Lindsay, one of Stone’s close friends. “He might not be big, but he’s the toughest guy there is. Nothing is going to bring him down.”


Kent Fisher 6 years, 5 months ago

What was the outcome of this case? Are there any pending suits against the dentist or plumber?

introversion 6 years, 4 months ago

Regardless of legal outcomes, this has been a devastating case for all involved.

I think it's absolutely wonderful to see some positive aspect of this, and to have someone like Austin as a role model.

angelmom 6 years, 4 months ago

What a nice story...Congrats to Austin. It's nice to have a positive story about a school in the news.

frank mcguinness 6 years, 4 months ago


He is probably a role model due to his handling of the cards he was delt.

He seems to have taken his situation in stride and seems determined to persevere regardless of the hurdles he will have to overcome.

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 4 months ago

Having experienced something similar with a child myself, I agree, he is a role model. I look up to my own child when I am feeling sorry for myself. When I think of all he has had to go through and with how much dignity and grace he's done so, I consider him my role model. It saddens me that Austin's life has taken such a turn but gladdens me that he is able to overcome so much and still consider his life gift to enjoy. He is proof of the old adge "There but by the grace of God, go I." We need to have love, compassion and admiration for young people like Austin. His life from an early age has changed dramatically but he is not afraid to step into the new future offered him.

Michael Capra 6 years, 4 months ago

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Zachary Stoltenberg 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, your a little off of your rant there 458. There are multiple parties that failed in multiple instances to allow this to happen. It wasn't an accident, it was negligence. The Architect / Builder could be held responsible for not calling out different sized lines as is required by code. The city building department could be held responsible for not enforcing those code requirements or specifying that they be on the drawings. The city also should have called for a special inspection on the lines and they failed to do so. The building inspector who approved the final inspection prior to closing up the walls could be held responsible for signing off on the work. And of course, as you mentioned, the plumber. It was my understanding that Action did not connect the lines and specified to the Architect/Builder that they were not certified to do so, all they did was run them. The GC is ultimately responsible for the work of any subcontractors anyway. Get your facts straight before you fling wild accusations at an individual or a business, you could be held legally responsible.

promises21 6 years, 4 months ago

458casul.....I've noticed that you are quick to point fingers and you tend to have no idea what you're talking about! Research the facts first and give people the benefit of the doubt. But then I guess that leaves nothing to gossip about?

walkingonwater 6 years, 4 months ago

458casul... you wouldn't happen to be a plumber, would you?

countrygirl 6 years, 4 months ago

I have tears in my eyes after reading this.

TongieMom 6 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations Austin! My son was at the ceremony yesterday and it was 'awesome' as he put it. He said his hands hurt from clapping so hard - there were kids hollerin'...some had tears in their eyes...he felt very fortunate to be there and share in the moment. It's something he will never forget.

Austin is a role model - although my son didn't know Austin personally, he is inspired by his story. Austin has come a long way in this journey and he has a determination to not let this hold him back from living his life and moving forward each day!

Thanks for the update on Austin & for the attached video!

Jeanette Kekahbah 6 years, 4 months ago

Teared up reading this. Congrats, Austin! My best to you!

Linda Aikins 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a wonderful story! Congratulations to the Tonganoxie kids and staff for coming up and following through with this. Do you have any idea how much those kids learned during this ceremony?

My best wishes to Austin and his family. Well done!

Ricky_Vaughn 6 years, 4 months ago

I think Austin is a role model for the attitude he chose in facing his problems. I think the folks at the school are role models too for putting this together for Austin. Kudos all around!

It's just nice to see the good side of society for a change. I welled up a little myself reading this one.

Matt Warman 6 years, 4 months ago

Best wishes and good luck with your future Austin!

Tammy Copp-Barta 6 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations, Austin! I pray for your continued recovery and to continue to have the incredible strength you have already shown you have!

persevering_gal 6 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations to you, Austin! Way to keep persevering! I attended South Dakota State for a couple of years, and they have an excellent academia. Just make sure to bundle up during the cold winters! Best of luck to you!

mtorkzadeh 6 years, 4 months ago

i watched the news special on this young man last night and was truly moved. to know he has such a strong spirit and doesn't allow any bumps along the road to stop him...should be a lesson to all of us. way to go Austin!

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