Wednesday was the last day of school for Beatrice High School seniors, and their teachers and staff helped them go out in style.
It was a formal farewell as they were greeted by teachers, principals and other staff members dressed to the nines after the students walked down a literal red carpet when they entered school for the last time.
Staff were dressed in formal gowns and tuxedos, bow ties, suits, top hats and canes. It was like that ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man” come to life.
Even school resource officer Zac Lauenstein got into the act, wearing a dressier version of his typical police uniform with white gloves and hat as students came to their final lunch at BHS.
“I got to welcome the kids as they came,” Lauenstein said. “Some were startled because they've never seen a dress uniform before.”
Seniors were all gathered in the auxiliary gym for lunch, where a dozen or so giant sandwiches from Subway were laid out for them along with cake as they watched a slideshow of their classmates' pictures from when they were toddlers.
Senior Kayleigh Johnson said the lunch was a great way to spend time with friends one last time even though it was sad.
“I cried,” she said. “It was very emotional.”
Paige Stanbrough, who was sitting with Johnson at lunch had some words of advice for next year’s class.
“Just enjoy every little thing and try to go to all the events and games,” she said.
“Buy all the t-shirts,” Johnson added.
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For senior Jouquin Fox - also known as “fox” - this will be one of his last days in Beatrice or even Nebraska. He and his friends Dylan Bassinger - AKA “Triple J” - and Damian Salazar are heading to Minneapolis to study and work on careers in music.
They’re a little nervous about the move and none of them know quite where they’ll end up, but they’re looking forward to the future. They had some advice for the incoming class of 2019 as well.
“Be yourself,” Fox said.
“Express yourself,” Bassinger said.
“Open your mind,” Salazar added.
The class of 2018 is a close-knit group, said principal Jason Sutter, who was dressed in a top hat and cane. He added that the students have done a great job with fine arts, athletics and activities, while also being a smart group.
This year’s seniors were awarded a record number of scholarships. There will be several kids going on the school’s Wall of Fame for their high ACT scores, as well.
The class of 2018 will have multiple co-valedictorians at Sunday’s graduation ceremony due to how many kids got 4.0 grade point averages and above.
“[It's] just been a wonderful class to have go through Beatrice High School,” Sutter said. “They've been a model class as far as being able to model what we would want underclassmen to achieve.”
Fox said that while he’ll be heading out of state - maybe for good - there will always be some part of Beatrice High School that stays with him.
“It's where I came from," he said. "It's made me who I am. So I feel like it'll always be with me."