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In just a few short days Ottawa High School will be saying goodbye to another group of seniors traveling off into the great big world of adulthood.  This year graduation means a little more to me than the 9 previous I have participated in as an administrator.  Yes, a portion of that is because it will be my last as the principal of Ottawa High School, however, the greater tug on the heart strings is that this is the first group of freshman who welcomed me in as the principal 4 years ago.  This is the group that started the transformation of our school into what it is today.  This is the group who allowed us to try new things, that hung in there when we put on greater expectations and held them to higher standards, and who walked with us together into this new frontier that is Ottawa High School today.  

This group of seniors was the first to begin our MTSS reading program 4 years ago, they were the first to take the ACT as an entire class, they were the group that we relied upon to help us create a responsible student citizenry with regard to our 1 to 1 initiative, this group was the first to work through the development and implementation of a true internship program at our school and they were the catalyst for our creation of the C3 initiative that will hopefully receive Board approval on May 9.  And maybe most importantly, the senior class of 2016 had an incredible role in helping this district pass a bond issue that will provide a facelift to our school catapulting it to levels never seen before in our facilities.

Needless to say this group of seniors have played an integral part in the growth of not only Ottawa High School but USD 290 as a whole.  They have paved the way for the next group of Cyclones to come through and make OHS an even better school that it already is.  I am thankful that this class along with those that have come before it, as well as those that will come after it, have given our staff the respect and ability to not settle for the status quo of what OHS has always been and to push the envelope of greatness to levels we have not seen before.

The last change that the Class of 2016 will see while still a Cyclone student will take place on Saturday, May 7, at commencement.  When Mr. Graf, Mr. Bland, and I took over the administration 4 years ago our top priority was to increase the graduation rate of our students.  Every decision made since then has focused on that as an end goal.  In part that includes that need to recognize all of our students who have met the requirements to graduate from OHS regardless of the school in which they attend whether Adult Education, Ottawa Learning Center (OLC), Ottawa Virtual Learning Program (OVLP) or Ottawa High School.  In the past each of these groups had a separate ceremony diminishing the accomplishments of those not allowed to participate in the “main” ceremony at Steve Grogan Stadium.  This year we will recognize every student who has met the requirements to graduate Saturday night at Steve Grogan Stadium and depending on how our seniors do this last week we may see the largest graduating class in recent memory walk across that stage.

I look forward to this year’s commencement ceremonies and would like to thank the seniors for allowing me the opportunity to make one more significant change in the status quo history of our school.  Our ceremony will be held Saturday, May 7, at Steve Grogan Stadium and is set to begin at 7:00 p.m.  We hope to see you there!