Archive for Thursday, May 13, 2004

Graduating seniors ready for ‘cool stuff’

May 13, 2004

De Soto High School seniors Sarah Riggs and Kody Willnauer will be
two of the students' whose talents will be incorporated into the
school's graduation ceremony Saturday. Principal Debbie Lynn said
the school's graduation was different each year because every class
personalizes the program.

De Soto High School seniors Sarah Riggs and Kody Willnauer will be two of the students' whose talents will be incorporated into the school's graduation ceremony Saturday. Principal Debbie Lynn said the school's graduation was different each year because every class personalizes the program.

Sarah Riggs started high school with a different goal than most of her classmates.
"Some of the girls wanted to be homecoming queen," she said. "My high school dream was to speak at graduation."
Riggs will fulfill that dream this weekend. She and classmate Kody Willnauer are two of eight seniors chosen to speak at De Soto High School's graduation ceremonies on Saturday. The hyper-involved pair spent this week in a whirlwind of last-minute preparations, schoolwork, outside jobs, planing and fondly remembering the past four years.
Riggs is co-editor-in-chief of The Green Pride, a member of National Honor Society and unofficially involved in just about everything else at De Soto High School.
"I'm just here all the time," she said.
Away from school, Riggs is either working at Lloyd's Dog and Horse, a feed and tack store in Olathe, waiting tables at Joe's Crab Shack in Olathe, or at home with her two horses, which she said were her "passion."
Riggs received a leadership scholarship to attend Kansas State University in the fall, where she will study animal science and leadership studies.
Willnauer is student council vice president, photo editor for The Green Pride, a drum major for the band and a member of National Honor Society.
He plays the piano and oboe in the band and has received top honors at the state music festival in both. He also teaches piano lessons to area students.
A self-proclaimed "sports enthusiast extraordinaire," Willnauer said he watched as many school sporting events as he could.
As co-chairman for the school's Battle of the Bands, Willnauer also helped raise about $2,000 for a teacher who was in a car accident.
Willnauer plans to attend Kansas University, where he has a music education scholarship. He hopes to double-major in music education and political science.
Principal Debbie Lynn said graduation at De Soto High School was all about the seniors. They did most of the talking, planning, and even music, she said.
"This is the students' graduation," she said. "Every year it changes, which I think is very cool because every single class has its own characteristics."
With help and inspiration from her mother, Riggs, a published poet, used her writing talents to re-do lyrics to Alan Jackson's hit country song "Remember When." The new lyrics pertain to students' life through school, she said.
Putting two heads together helped conjure up memories ---- and sentimentality -- from both sides, Riggs said.
"It made me cry writing it," she said.
The school choir will perform the song during commencement.
Riggs will also give a speech on a yet undisclosed topic.
"I'm keeping that a secret," she said.
Willnauer relinquished his speech altogether and will instead conduct the band in a song he composed himself.
"It's a lot better than my words could ever have been," he said.
Willnauer said he spent at least 100 hours writing the piece, titled "American Royale," for a 22-member band. He said the music had the tone of a regal coronation with a touch of Americana.
"It's a work of love," he said. "It's quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
Willnauer said he got the idea to compose a song when he was a freshman but only began work in September. "American Royale" was performed at the school's band concert this week and will be formally dedicated Saturday to the class of 2004.
"That's how I wanted to be remembered," he said.
With Division I universities in their future, Willnauer and Riggs said they were prepared to be little fish in a big pond but that they appreciated the small size and caring staff of De Soto High School.
"It's really cool that we're such a small class that we know everybody," Willnauer said. "We're very, very privileged to be at this school."
Riggs wasn't always excited to be a part of the class of 2004. She admitted to writing more than one critical editorial on the matter for the school paper during the past four years.
But now?
"I wouldn't be in any other class," she said. "Our senior year, something clicked; everybody stepped up."
Willnauer said the class of 2004 would be remembered for originality.
Riggs agreed.
"We're just very ...us," she said. "Our class is one to be reckoned with. I think our class is going to do some really cool stuff."
Riggs is co-editor-in-chief of The Green Pride, a member of National Honor Society and unofficially involved in just about everything else at De Soto High School.
"I'm just here all the time," she said.
Away from school, Riggs is either working at Lloyd's Dog and Horse, a feed and tack store in Olathe, waiting tables at Joe's Crab Shack in Olathe, or at home with her two horses, which she said were her "passion."
Riggs received a leadership scholarship to attend Kansas State University in the fall, where she will study animal science and leadership studies.
Willnauer is student council vice president, photo editor for The Green Pride, a drum major for the band and a member of National Honor Society.
He plays the piano and oboe in the band and has received top honors at the state music festival in both. He also teaches piano lessons to area students.
A self-proclaimed "sports enthusiast extraordinaire," Willnauer said he watched as many school sporting events as he could.
As co-chairman for the school's Battle of the Bands, Willnauer also helped raise about $2,000 for a teacher who was in a car accident.
Willnauer plans to attend Kansas University, where he has a music education scholarship. He hopes to double-major in music education and political science.
Principal Debbie Lynn said graduation at De Soto High School was all about the seniors. They did most of the talking, planning, and even music, she said.
"This is the students' graduation," she said. "Every year it changes, which I think is very cool because every single class has its own characteristics."
With help and inspiration from her mother, Riggs, a published poet, used her writing talents to re-do lyrics to Alan Jackson's hit country song "Remember When." The new lyrics pertain to students' life through school, she said.
Putting two heads together helped conjure up memories ---- and sentimentality -- from both sides, Riggs said.
"It made me cry writing it," she said.
The school choir will perform the song during commencement.
Riggs will also give a speech on a yet undisclosed topic.
"I'm keeping that a secret," she said.
Willnauer relinquished his speech altogether and will instead conduct the band in a song he composed himself.
"It's a lot better than my words could ever have been," he said.
Willnauer said he spent at least 100 hours writing the piece, titled "American Royale," for a 22-member band. He said the music had the tone of a regal coronation with a touch of Americana.
"It's a work of love," he said. "It's quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
Willnauer said he got the idea to compose a song when he was a freshman but only began work in September. "American Royale" was performed at the school's band concert this week and will be formally dedicated Saturday to the class of 2004.
"That's how I wanted to be remembered," he said.
With Division I universities in their future, Willnauer and Riggs said they were prepared to be little fish in a big pond but that they appreciated the small size and caring staff of De Soto High School.
"It's really cool that we're such a small class that we know everybody," Willnauer said. "We're very, very privileged to be at this school."
Riggs wasn't always excited to be a part of the class of 2004. She admitted to writing more than one critical editorial on the matter for the school paper during the past four years.
But now?
"I wouldn't be in any other class," she said. "Our senior year, something clicked; everybody stepped up."
Willnauer said the class of 2004 would be remembered for originality.
Riggs agreed.
"We're just very ...us," she said. "Our class is one to be reckoned with. I think our class is going to do some really cool stuff."

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