Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

June 1, 2013

‘Reach for the stars’

450 students graduated from KHS Friday

When Stephani Brown gave birth to her daughter seven months ago, she wasn’t sure she’d graduate from high school.

Between work and her baby, she didn’t know how she’d find the time for homework and classes.

But she was determined to finish what she started.

“I figured if my mom can graduate with a baby, so can I,” she said.

She enrolled in Kokomo High School’s new Twilight School and took classes in the evening when her shift at Subway was over. It was tough, though. She didn’t know if she would make it.

But Friday evening, Brown stood alongside her classmates, waiting for commencement ceremonies to begin.

It was an emotional moment for her. And the best part about it?

“Just knowing I made this happen,” she said. “I honestly didn’t think I would graduate. I had so much on my plate. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to carry it.”

Brown was among the 450 students who graduated from Kokomo High School Friday.

Of those, 39 graduated with an overall GPA of at least 10.25 on a 12-point scale and had no semester grade lower than a B. Thirteen students graduated with a GPA higher than 12.0 because of advanced placement classes and dual credit classes, which are weighted.

Thomas Jiang graduated as salutatorian of his class with a GPA of 12.769. Morgan Mohr was the class of 2013 valedictorian with a GPA of 13.121.

She delivered a speech meant to empower all of the other women in her class.

She made a joke that actor Ryan Gosling once sent Hillary Clinton a text message that said, “Hey, doll.”

The former secretary of state responded with, “It’s Madame Secretary.”

“I now expect all of you to vote for Hillary in 2016,” she said, with a laugh. “We need more female leaders.”

Mohr told her classmates that it’s startling that women hold only 16 percent of the board seats in this country and make up only 18 percent of Congress.

“Girls, we have 7 billion people on this planet,” she said in her address. “Consider doing something other than parenting. The patriarchy must be dismantled.”

It’s only fitting that Mohr is heading to Indiana University in the fall to triple major in political science, gender studies and economics.

Graduate Natalie Meyers will head to Ivy Tech and then to Indiana University Kokomo to earn her nursing degree.

As she lined up for commencement Friday, she admitted she was nervous to walk across stage and accept her diploma.

“I’m older than all these kids,” she said. “I’m 36. I’m married, and I have two kids.”

She didn’t graduate from high school 18 years ago like she should have but has always wanted that diploma. A GED wasn’t good enough, she said.

So she, too, joined the Twilight School. When she wasn’t caring for her children and shuttling them from one place to another, she sat behind her computer and worked through online classes.

She would sometimes work 16 hours a day on it.

It paid off. Meyers earned 41 credits from August to May. That included the 27 high school credits she needed to graduate and 14 college credits, too.

“I told them when I started, I was going to finish this year,” she said. “It teaches my son you have to have an education.”

Mohr told her classmates that employers are calling their entire generation narcissists, but she knows that’s not true.

They all have the opportunity to do something special with their lives.

“Reach for the stars,” she told them.

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