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Centre seniors revel in opportunity

Staff writer

Jensen Riffel knows his graduation won’t be like other years, but he’s looking forward to what he anticipates will be a unique experience.

“It’s kind of weird having it really late,” he said. “Ours is on the Fourth of July. It’s at a weird time, but I find it cool to have ours on a holiday.”

One thing that likely won’t be featured is fireworks. The school hoped to have a fireworks display to go with having the ceremony July 4 but decided against it because of the county health department’s recommendations to avoid large gatherings.

“We know what happens on the Fourth of July,” high school principal Donald Raymer said. “People are going to be close together and enjoying themselves.”

Instead, Raymer and the school are planning a surprise for each senior as he or she walks across Centre’s Bud Peterson Field.

“I think every senior class across the country is excited just to be able to have a graduation if they’re able to,” he said. “We’ve been in Centre’s gymnasium for many years, so I think going out to Bud Peterson Field will be something special to this senior class.”

The surprise is an added bonus, Riffel said.

“I kind of like having the unexpected with ours,” he said. “Some of us were totally expecting we weren’t going to have one and it was game over. I was torn apart because I couldn’t do what everybody else in my family has done, which was walk across the gym.”

Centre doesn’t name a valedictorian or salutatorian but Riffel and Kelsey Hett are the school’s two seniors to be named state scholars. Riffel also was named a governor’s scholar.

He will attend Ottawa University on a football scholarship to pursue exercise science or education.

Hett will attend Kansas Wesleyan University to play basketball.

Riffel knows that as long as there is a ceremony of some sort, his family will come from far and near to show support.

“I wanted to see my whole family again,” he said. “I haven’t seen a couple of them in a long while. They’re still planning; my family is pretty good at showing up to everything.”

A family atmosphere was something Riffel was used to with his graduating class as well. The class grew from freshmen who didn’t get along into a close group of friends.

“When we were first broken the news that school was shut down, I was pretty sad because I wouldn’t be able to see some of my classmates for a long while,” he said. “Being such a small class, we were so tight-knit.”

Graduation is planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the school’s football field.

While the school won’t turn away any attending family members, those who could be at risk are being encouraged not to attend.

Areas will be designated for individual graduates and their families to sit together.

Centre High School graduates

Alexis Craney, Emma David, Almeda Giroux, Jayce Haskins, Kelsey Hett, Allie Hird, Jacob Hird, Kaitlyn Hudson, Gracie Luna, Trenton Milspaaugh, Jensen Riffel, Braxton Smith, Dalton Stika, Aidan Svoboda, Gabby Torrez.

State scholars

Kelsey Hett and Jensen Riffel.

Last modified July 2, 2020

 

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