Severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings forced Kennard-Dale High School's graduation into the school's gymnasium Friday evening. Family and friends of the graduating seniors carried umbrellas on their way to the building, and the overflow crowds went to the cafeteria and auditorium, where live feeds of the ceremony were shown.

Once inside, student volunteers handed out blue and gold flowers to the mothers of the graduates and blue ribbons captioned "KD Grad Dad" to the fathers of the graduates before 207 graduates walked down the aisle. The female graduates wore gold robes and the male graduates blue.

This was Rona Kaufmann's first graduation as superintendent of South Eastern School District. Kaufmann explained how her parents helped her out through the years, and she encouraged graduates to give thoughtful recognition to their own parents.

"You have one life to live, and you should make the most of it and have fun," she said.

School board president Jennifer Tobias reminded graduates that the night was both the beginning and the end, while valedictorian Rachel Fleming spoke of her fears of public speaking and used this as an example to inspire graduates to find their own paths, chase their dreams and turn them into reality.

Salutatorian Rachael DeLawder summed up her speech with the school's motto, "Go big or go home."

Guest speaker high school teacher Beverly Whiteford spoke of the transition from graduate to adult.


She argued that being a graduate does not automatically change a child to an adult, but that the test that comes the day after the graduation may cause the transformation.

"It takes a village to raise a child. Tomorrow you will wake up in the village, and what will you do?" she asked the graduates.

She said that an adult returns the time and sacrifice that the village gave them because they want to, not because they have to.

Kennard-Dale High School Class of 2012

Number of Graduates: 207

Graduation ceremony held: June 1 in the gym

Valedictorian: Rachel N. Fleming

Salutatorian: Rachael L. DeLawder

Other speakers: Principal Heather C. Venn, Superintendent Rona C. Kaufmann, school board president Jennifer E. Tobias, high school science teacher Beverly D. Whiteford, Anita A. Seasing