2012 Free State graduates reflect on how far they’ve come


See the list of 2012 Free State High School graduates.

Free State High School seniors took a trip down memory lane as part of a commencement ceremony that celebrated their futures.

Student body President Brooke Fox asked her fellow graduates to remember the days when ‘N Sync was the hottest boy band around, their parents chaperoned their first dates and they struggled with their high school locker combinations.

“Remember the first time you drove a car?” Fox asked. “Remember the first time you crashed a car?”

Their class might be the last one to remember where they were on Sept. 11, Fox said (they were second-graders in 2001). As eighth-graders, they watched the Kansas University men’s basketball team win the national championship. And during their senior year, there were Friday night football games, Encore and prom.

“Remember your past few years here and how they defined you. Remember where you came from,” Fox told her classmates.

Under sunny skies, families and friends filled Free State’s stadium Sunday afternoon to watch more than 350 students graduate.

“This is your special day, graduates,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “And while it is the end of your high school career, we know it is only the beginning of your future.”

Fox wasn’t the only one recalling the class’s shared history during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

A group of senior girls — Alex Hill, Natalie Hiebert and Amber Hicks — said the seniors’ defining memory will be “bomb threat Thursday,” a day last winter when classes were canceled because of a written bomb threat.

But they said there were plenty of other memories too.

Hiebert said she’d never forget singing Peggy Lee’s “Fever” at Encore, a musical production that mixes popular music and choir. Hicks said she’ll always remember playing soccer. Her team just won the regional championship title. And Hill said she won’t forget how the class came together during senior week.

“It goes so fast,” Hill said of her time in high school.

Gabriel Patterson and Brett Frantz said their favorite memories at Free State revolved around playing basketball.

“I’m proud to be a Firebird,” Frantz said.

And, Jascynne Brown said she won’t forget about working with students who had special needs, which she said taught her about those who have disabilities and allowed her to bond with students she normally wouldn’t have known.

“I love Free State,” she said. “It has a homey feeling.”