News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 8, 2014

Eyes on the road ahead: South students, principal look to future full of opportunity

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute South Braves said good-bye Sunday to long-time friends and turned their eyes to a hopeful future.

Hundreds of Braves crossed the stage at Hulman Center to receive their high school diplomas as their names were announced one by one, and members of the Vigo County School Board offered congratulations.

“I am very proud of the class of 2014,” said a visibly emotional Christopher Mauk, the school’s principal. Mauk is stepping down this year to take a less time-consuming principal’s job at an elementary school in order to spend more time with his family, said Danny Tanoos, superintendent.

Mauk, who started as principal of South in 2008, received a standing ovation from the large audience of graduates, their friends and families, teachers and staff.

Valedictorian Katherine Senseman, also class president, reminisced about a South football victory upon which the student body – as one – stormed the opposition’s playing field in celebration.

“We were one school running united,” Senseman recalled. “Now it is time to move on and let the rest of the world know who you are.”

Senseman offered a special thanks to her swim coach, Jeff Thompson, saying he had had an enormous influence on her life. Senseman, a 2014 McMillan Award winner, will be swimming for Northwestern University next year.

Salutatorian Ryan Chung put graduation in perspective by stating there are about 15 million high school graduates in the U.S. this year. Nevertheless, he urged his classmates to make an effort to be at least a little unique.

“Today is a stepping stone to greater things,” he said.

Superintendent Tanoos declared that the class of 2014 had met all the requirements to graduate at a few minutes after 4:30 p.m. Within a few minutes, members of the class crossed the stage to accept their diplomas. Once back in their seats, they cheered at the ceremonial moving of their tassels from right to left before watching the class video.

“It feels really good. I’ve been waiting four years for this,” said Nicole Thiede, a 2014 graduate after posing for photographs with her family outside Hulman Center shortly after the graduation had ended. All around her, other graduates were going through the same experience, exchanging hugs with relatives in the warm June sunshine.

Despite being excited to be attending St. Joseph’s College in the fall to study biology, Thiede said it will be “weird” “not going back through the doors [of South Vigo] next week. But it’s really exciting, and I’m happy to be starting college.”

“South is one of the best high schools in the state, and I’ve really enjoyed four years here, and congrats to everybody that graduated today,” she said.

Rodney Sullivan, another graduate, said he is glad to be finished with high school, but will miss seeing friends every day. He is also headed out of town to school. Sullivan, an experienced dirt bike racer, plans to attend Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla., in the fall.

Any words for your classmates? he was asked. “Good luck,” he said.

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

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