News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 8, 2014

Vikings raise their anchors

West Vigo: ‘Terre Haute’s best-kept secret,’ says student prez

WEST TERRE HAUTE — The West Vigo Vikings class of 2014 set sail for the future Sunday evening after completing four years of high school.

In a green and tan gymnasium that seemed to contain every resident of western Vigo County, the relatively small graduating class showed strong school spirit as nearly everyone of them attended the one-hour ceremony, and cars and trucks filled every available space large enough for a vehicle anywhere near the school building.

West Vigo is “Terre Haute’s best-kept secret,” said Madeline Riley, student council president. “I can’t wait to see what we all accomplish.”

Valedictorian Emma Auterson urged her classmates to “live each day to the fullest,” laugh and “love what you do and do what you love.”

“It’s time for us to look to the future,” she said.

Salutatorian Taylor Certain said the course work at West Vigo wasn’t necessarily the source of high school’s most-important lessons. Much was learned from faculty and staff as role models, she said.

“Regardless of our next step in life, West Vigo will always be an important part of our lives,” she said. “It was an honor to be a part of West Vigo’s class of 2014.”

Principal Tom Balitewicz, speaking to the graduating class, showed his familiarity with the students by reciting things he knew about many of them. He also asked for a moment of silence to honor former principal James Jackson, who passed away in December at age 87. Jackson was an educator in western Vigo County for 49 years.

Superintendent Danny Tanoos declared the graduates had met all the necessary requirements to complete high school at a little before 7:30 p.m. to strong applause. Then the students names were read one-by-one as they crossed a stage on the gym floor to accept their diplomas from members of the Vigo County School Board.

Two students with physical disabilities who required walkers to cross the stage enthusiastic received standing ovations.

Speaking in the parking area outside the school, graduate Jacob Anes said it feels good to graduate but he will miss his friends. He plans to attend Ivy Tech Community College to study to become a surgical or X-ray technician, he said.

Danielle Stevens, another graduate, was carrying flowers as she left her school for the last time as a student Sunday night with her family.

“It feels great, but you’ll miss your friends,” Stevens said. The best part of graduating is seeing friends for the last time. The worst part is also seeing them for the last time, she said. She plans to study at Harrold Beauty Academy in Terre Haute, she said.

Class president Allison Gard, in closing comments, urged her classmates to go out and make their own futures. She also thanked family and teachers for helping along the way.

“Without your never-ending support, we’d have never made it this far,” she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

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