EVANSVILLE — Autumn Quinn had one extra reason for butterflies as she graduated with the rest of her high school class Sunday.
Quinn had violated a rule. She had decorated her mortarboard with stick-on plastic jewels, spelling out “EHS.”
Principal Scott Everson had told the seniors not to do that. He threatened to have spare mortarboards available and said he would embarrass anyone who violated his rule by making them change in front of hundreds of onlookers in the Evansville High School gym.
Autumn managed to avoid detection, or Everson is a softie, because that didn’t happen.
Then she had to face him, right after receiving her diploma.
“I shook his hand, and he said, ‘Autumn, nice bling,’” she said after the ceremony.
Quinn will take her urge to change how the world looks to Madison Media Institute, where she hopes to become a graphic designer.
Everson, meanwhile, had to face the traditional senior prank. Each diploma recipient shook his hand and gave him a plastic zip tie. One fastened a tie around his wrist, another his leg. He fended off other attempts and ended up with a fistful, 114 zip ties in all.
The ties refer to Everson’s campaign to eliminate sagging jeans. Anyone with underwear showing had his belt loops zip-tied together, and that eliminated sagging at EHS, Everson said after the ceremony.
Everson urged the grads to aspire to something that previous graduates could not: to get their faces on the school’s Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame’s inaugural ceremony is planned for this fall. All of Sunday’s graduates have an equal chance of making the hall, he said, no matter what they did in high school. It all depends on what they do in life.
Retiring counselor Randy Keister was the day’s featured speaker, and he had some wishes for the graduates. He called them Keister’s Keys for Happiness.
The four keys: be healthy, find a fulfilling career, be surrounded by people who love and support you, and refuse to see yourself as a victim.
“Responsible people are aware that our actions dictate outcomes,” he said. “Victims believe others’ actions dictate what happens to them.”
Among the day’s embraces, handshakes and fist-bumps was a huddle-hug of seniors right after they sang their last song with the school’s chorus, the tear-jerking “Seasons of Love.”
The grads, of course, were sad to leave or happy to leave high school. Elizabeth Kolasch pronounced herself “bipolar” on that score.
“I’m going to miss everybody, but I’m happy to move on,” she said.