CHESTERTON | Pride was the story of Chesterton High School's 121st commencement exercises Thursday.
Pride, the kind that left Chesterton High School secretary Karin Sjaaheim in tears, clutching tissues and hugging graduates as they marched into the school gym for Thursday's commencement ceremony.
"Some of these kids have come such a long way. I'm so proud of them," Sjaaheim said.
Pride, in the flash of cameras, the standing ovation, the waves, the thrown kisses and even the "Olivia! Woooo!" shouted from the bleachers as the maroon-clad class of 2011 entered.
And in the deafening roar at the conclusion of "Pomp and Circumstance" as the grads reached their seats.
Pride, as heard in Principal James Goetz's upbeat last instructions to the grads before marching in.
"First of all," Goetz said, "turn your phones off ... Secondly, congratulations, guys, you made it."
Pride, in the wide smile on graduate Nikki Green's face as she showed off the pin, medal, cords and gold hood on her robes signifying her academic success and distinctions.
"It's been a long ride, with many obstacles to overcome," said Green, now headed to biology and pre-med studies at Butler University. "I am so happy at how my life has turned out so far, and I can't wait for the future."
Pride, on the part of parents "overflowing with hope and wonder, like the day you were born," in the words of commencement speaker Michael Okeley.
Pride, expressed in five principles for a life of happiness and contentment Okeley shared with the graduates.
Take responsibility for your actions and for helping others, said Okeley, an economics and government teacher at the school.
Avoid debt, choose the hard right over the easy wrong and work hard, pushing your mind and body, he said.
And Okeley urged the graduates to be generous.
"Give," he said, "with radical extravagance."
And pride, on the face of Joyce Rounds, mother of graduate Maddie Rounds, as she waited for family before the ceremony.
"I am so proud," said Rounds, who never imagined her daughter would learn Japanese or create the impressive ceramic works she did at Chesterton High School.
"Can you see the little tears in my eyes? She's my baby."