Stillwater High School celebrated 377 graduates at a ceremony in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Friday.

Family and friends joined the graduates as SHS Principal Walter Howell shared the school’s new theme, “School of Champions” – and how this year’s 2023 graduating class has proven that true.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the seniors seated in front of you this evening have done amazing things,” SHS Principal Walter Howell said at the ceremony. “In fact, we think they are champions.”

Among the graduates, three were named National Merit Finalists, and 43 students were Oklahoma Academic Scholars, with graduate ACT scores of 27 and un-weighted grade point averages of higher than 3.7.

SHS Advanced Placement exams had a passing rate of 80 percent, and the attendance rate reached more than 90 percent in the 2022-2023 school year.

“I’m impressed every day with the accomplishments of our students,” Howell said. “There’s a lot of great things happening here. You come to expect it.”

Stillwater Public Schools Superintendent Uwe Gordon said graduation is his second favorite day of the school year – with the first day of school being his favorite.

“Both are so filled with hope,” Gordon said. “Statistically speaking, each of those young people have added years to their lives by making it to graduation.”

Howell noted that the 2023 graduating class earned more than $5.1 million in scholarships – more than any class in SHS history.

The senior class alone raised more than $360,775 in the past three years through events such as Pink Out Week and Stillwater Makes a Change.

But that wasn’t all.

In sports, SHS was the Football Class 6A-2 State Champion, wrestling Class 6A Dual State Champions and Wrestling Class 6A State Champion, with four individual state champions – most notably senior Cael Hughes.

Keegan Thomas was the Track and Cross-Country State Champion Runner and Noah Roberts set a new school record in the 4x200 meter relay as part of a state championship.

Avery Littlefield was Swim State Champion in the 500 meter freestyle swim and 100 meter freestyle swim.

“You have demonstrated tremendous grit and determination,” Howell told the senior class. “Sometimes in life the challenges will be tough. How you tackle those challenges and how you treat others means everything.”

Senior class president Menatallah Awad said her high school life would not have been the same if she hadn’t been class president.

“It’s been one of the best moments of my life,” Awad said. “I definitely got out of my shell, I met so many new people and I learned to love my class even more. I’m so blessed and honored to have been their president for the past four years.”

The senior class had other notable accomplishments.

Emma Zamborsky won an FFA State Officer position and Jini Moua was awarded FFA State Runner Up. Both qualified for nationals.

Grant Walker secured a congressional appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.

KeKe Abai, Zane Miller, Tobias Gossman, Miles Johnston and Jace Brown presented a Hunch project at NASA.

Katy Croft and Conner Sigrist were invited to the Tulsa Discovery Awards, and both will represent Oklahoma in a Broadway Master Class in New York City.

Madi Poe and Jackson Joyce made All-State Symphonic Band. Ethan Hammer, Molly Kelly and Conner Sigrist made All-State Choir.

William Haynes, Kie Kie Miles and Jackson Joyce wrote and directed their own compositions at the spring orchestra concert.

The list of accomplishments didn’t end there, but Howell wrapped up his speech by sharing words from former basketball coach Kendra Kilpatrick, who was a guiding light and inspiration to many.

“No matter what your situation is, whether it’s good or bad, just continue to fight and try to be a light for others,” he quoted. “Sometimes our situations aren’t good, sometimes it is good, but continuing to smile and continuing to just be a positive light for others would be the best thing that you can do.”

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