GRANITE CITY — Logan Cole turned in a successful senior year as a member of the Granite City Marching Warriors band.
Cole, who played the trombone, helped the Marching Warriors place first in three competitions and second in the Lindenwood University Greater St. Louis Marching Band Championship. He also earned a first-place rating in the IHSA State Solo and Ensemble Contest and participated in the Illinois Music Educators Association and SIUE Bi-State Band festivals.
He also was successful in the classroom. He was one of four students earning summa cum laude honors. A student has to earn a grade point average of 5.60 and above to be named summa cum laude.
“My high school experience has been a blast,” he said.
At the Granite City High School graduation ceremony on May 27 at Memorial Gymnasium, he not only received his summa cum laude honor, he was the first of more than 300 students to receive his diploma.
“I would like to thank all of the teachers I’ve had because you all had an impact in making me who I am today,” Cole said. “Second, I would like to thank my parents and my aunt Carolyn for always supporting my education and giving me all of the choices necessary for my academics and extracurricular activities. I also want to say thank you to Mr. (Wyatt) Roberds (band director), Mr. (Josh) Palmer (assistant director) and all of the band directors I had for giving me a place to fit in and giving me some of my fondest memories. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. (John) Manoogian for giving me a chance to take the stage in acting at the theater department because it allowed me to grow and blossom to who I am today. I was a shy freshman back in my freshman year, my friends can tell you.”
Mikayla Kingsley, Emily Smith and Nick Zambito were the other students who received summa cum laude honors. All three of them were athletes.
Smith was the captain of the girls’ soccer team. A week before graduation, Smith helped the Warriors win their second straight regional championship.
Kingsley played tennis and Zambito was a member of the football team.
The commencement ceremony was moved to the gym because of inclement weather. Rain fell two hours before the ceremony began, forcing administrators to move the ceremony inside.
There were 364 graduates; 75 of those students graduated in December.
“Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of this dedicated group of young people,” Principal Daren DePew said. “To the seniors, the impression you made upon Granite City High School will be everlasting. Your amount of school spirit and enthusiasm has been recognized and admired by many schools across the area. Thank you for being who you are and for leading us such a positive lasting impression. We’re proud of the people you have become. Remember no matter what direction your life leads, do your best and carry yourself with pride remember where you came from and whenever possible, give back.”
Granite City School District Superintendent Jim Greenwald said the senior class was pretty special to him since they were freshmen in his final year as the high school’s principal.
“I have the opportunity to see you grow and develop as great young people academically and socially throughout your career,” Greenwald said. “From the very beginning, you walked into the program and fully understood following the path of a Warrior. You acted with honor, integrity and respect.”
Jason Bringer, Hailey Broska, Reagan Clemons, Dylan Griffith, Savannah Jaspering and Nicole Radev earned an associate’s degree from Southwestern Illinois College for participating in the Running Start program, which allows high school students to take college classes for credit. Last year, only one GCHS student — Kari Laub — completed the program.
Seven students — Lucas Batson, Kassandra Barrera, Bryce Davis, Jonathan French, Jamesha Jones, Jimmy Shrum and Deonte Sissom — were honored because they plan to serve in the military.
Gabe Jarman, who played football and baseball and served as the student council president, led the audience in the pledge of allegiance. Marcus Barnes performed “America The Beautiful” and teamed up with twin brothers Ian and Jacob Cowley to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Cole was one of 27 seniors in the Marching Warriors band. He also was one of 66 seniors in the National Honor Society.
During his three-minute speech, Cole said it takes hard work to become a successful high school student.
“If it’s easy, it won’t be worth it,” he said. “And if it’s worth it, it won’t be easy. Looking into your future, you may have to work a little harder to get the grade in your class. You might have to practice a little harder to make the team or you might have to do extra prep work to get the job. You’re going to have to work to make the future brighter unless you can get a job sitting in your parents’ house, playing video games and eating Twinkies.”
Cole said going to high school was like going to work.
“For me, it was a full-time job,” he said. “But don’t get me wrong. It was probably the best job I ever had. I put countless hours of practice on the marching band and had amazing memories at competitions.”
Cole, who plans to attend Michigan State University this fall, has some advice to the graduates.
“I’m sure that every knows that life is a rollercoaster with crazy ups and downs and life after high school only gets crazier,” Cole said. “So Class of 2016, as we buckle our seat belts for the next ride on our life’s rollercoaster, remember these two words written in friendly large letters: Don’t panic.”