Harlan, IA Class of 2013 prove class acts - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Harlan, IA Class of 2013 prove class acts

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HARLAN, Iowa (KTIV) -

After graduation, students inevitably go their separate ways.  So, the senior class at Harlan High School wanted to leave a lasting on impression on graduation day.

Seniors at Harlan High School have a tradition of turning graduation day pomp into pranks.

"Some people talk about throwing eggs and bringing squirt guns," said senior Jackson Keane.

"When the seniors come through they hand something to the superintendent.  Sometimes, it's a little sketchy," superintendent Justin Wagner told parents at this year's commencement ceremony.

Wagner has had pennies, marbles, and even real goldfish placed in his hand.

"You put them in your pocket, cause you kinda don't have a choice there," he explained the day after graduation.

The class of 2013 decided to leave a legacy, their parents and teachers could be proud of.  It began with a challenge from Wagner.

"I want you to do something that's going to represent yourselves well," he says he told them at practice last Wednesday.

"Basically, do something great, is what we took from it," Keane said.

On graduation day, the first student handed Wagner a dollar bill.

"The next one came up and gave me money, the next one," Wagner described."

The plan was for each student to give Mr. Wagner a dollar when they crossed the stage, but same gave more, $5, $10, even $50.  Pretty soon, he had $359 coming out of his pockets.

"He had a pocket full of money by the time the E's rolled around," said senior Hannah Early.

"My pockets weren't big enough, because it was just a lot of money," Wagner recalled.\

Since the seniors were already done with school, they took to Twitter and Facebook to get the message out to all 128 students.  They did so successfully in just four days.

"The amount we raised was huge.  I mean, we told everyone to bring a buck.  But, we have 128 students, and we've raised over $350.  I think that speaks volumes about the kind of people that go to this school," said fellow senior Adam Zaccone.

As they crossed the stage, some of the 128 students in the graduating class whispered to Wagner where that money would go.  Then, he let the audience in on the students' secret.

"In my right pocket is money, and that money is going to be donated to the Wounded Warrior Foundation," Wagner told the crowd on graduation day.

"It just hits close to home for everyone, I think," explained Early.

A lieutenant colonel with Sioux City's 185th Air Refueling Wing, Wagner served in Afghanistan when these students were sophomores.  He plans to double their donation.

"I don't think there's a better cause that I can think of," Wagner said.

"I mean it really hits home when you're wondering if your superintendent's coming home.  Or, for some people it hit even closer.  Will your mom or dad or uncle come home," Early recalled.

Dru Beach suggested the Wounded Warrior fund to her classmates.

"You feel really good because everyone wants to be a part of something and everyone was willing to donate," said Beach.

As they start on separate paths, Jackson to technical school in Omaha, Hannah to Iowa State, Adam to college in California, and Dru to study biology at Iowa, their superintendent says their actions prove they're ready for the real world.

"They're set, they're ready to go.  What happened on Sunday's not going to show up on an assessment, but those are the characteristics that will make them successful in life," said Wagner the day after the kids did their good deed.

"You feel bigger than yourself," Keane described the feeling he had inside when he crossed the stage, Sunday.

"We wanted to be different.  We wanted to do something better," added Zaccone.

They leave a school that's given so much to them, knowing they've given something back.

Sunday, Wagner went off script, and he finished his speech with this: "Class, that's how you make your mark.  Thank You."

Since the seniors were already done with school, they took to Twitter and Facebook to get the message out to all 128 students.

They did so successfully in just four days.

 

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