Patton Junior High School ninth-graders line up in the hallway before their processional into the gymnasium for their graduation ceremony May 20 at Patton. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Patton Junior High School staff and faculty celebrated 57 ninth-grade students and their accomplishments with a graduation ceremony May 20 in the Patton gym.

Patton Junior High School Principal Ryan Wiebe says a few words to graduating ninth-graders as they line up to enter the gymnasium for their graduation ceremony May 20 at Patton. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Today marks the closing of one chapter in their lives and the opening of many new opportunities. At Patton, we strive to provide the type of education that will enable students to become productive, positive citizens,” said Ryan Wiebe, Patton principal. “It has been a pleasure to see this group of students’ progress throughout this year. …They will be missed. We wish you continued success in your future endeavors.”

Students known as “Patton Perseverance,” those who attended Patton Junior High School from seventh- through ninth-grade, are recognized during the graduation ceremony May 20 in Patton’s gymnasium. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


The ceremony included remarks from two representatives of the graduating class, Gabrielle Ohwovoriole and Hannah Morse; recognition of 21 students who attended Patton seventh- through ninth-grade known as “Patton Perseverance;” and two students who have attended Unified School District 207 since kindergarten known as “USD 207 Lifers.”


Ohwovoriole said she has learned the meaning of appreciation while at Patton.

Unified School District 207 Superintendent Dr. Keith Mispagel shares a fist bump with graduating ninth-grader Lucas Cho during the graduation ceremony May 20 at Patton Junior High School. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“When I was younger, I never really understood what it felt like to have a friend move away. I was always the one leaving, pushing the reset button on everything. That all changed when I made it to Kansas. It was here that I learned what goodbye truly meant,” Ohwovoriole said. “I finally understood what my friends went through, and it completely changed my outlook on life. I no longer mourned what I once had. Instead, I cherished the memories I made along the way. It was here that it became clear to me that I needed to look for the good in every situation. I need to value each moment.

Graduation guest speaker Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, offers some advice to graduating ninth-graders during his remarks May 20 at Patton Junior High School. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“Patton Junior High may appear staid on the outside, but it’s buzzing with excitement on the inside. When I would walk through its halls, I would see students with passions so bright it would blind my eyes, with a future surgeon in one corner and a foreign affairs officer in the next,” she said. “There weren’t any dreams too big, and if deemed unattainable, the teachers helped inspire us to continue to strive to accomplish them. Even when the pandemic knocked us off our feet, we still got back up again.”

Graduating ninth-graders Diasia Joe and Rebekah Tanner look at coins presented to them by Unified School District 207 Superintendent Dr. Keith Mispagel during the Patton Junior High School graduation ceremony May 20 in the Patton gymnasium. The two girls have attended USD 207 since kindergarten and have been thus dubbed “USD 207 Lifers.” Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Morse, who represented the remote learners, shared her own personal challenges of the past schoolyear including learning to be more independent, overcoming technical difficulties and adjusting to the lack of social interaction.

Graduation guest speaker Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, shares a fist bump with graduating ninth-grader Joseph Gordon during the graduation ceremony May 20 at Patton Junior High School. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“There is a quote by Roy T. Bennett that says, ‘Every challenge, every adversity, contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.’ Therefore, I took advantage of these challenges and converted them into new opportunities,” Morse said.

Patton Junior High School graduating ninth-graders listen to Principal Ryan Wiebe as their graduation ceremony begins May 20 in the Patton gymnasium. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


These opportunities included sleeping in, homecooked food for lunch, learning Mandarin and Korean, and having more time with her family and dogs, Morse said.


“From my learning experience at Patton this year, it prepared me to be more independent, which encouraged me to take initiative in my studies, maintain discipline from distractions at home and have better time management,” she said. “The overall experience I had at Patton was fun, unique and helped me grow as a person. It set me up for success and placed me on the right path while preparing me for my next school and college.”

Graduating ninth-grader Hannah Morse recounts some of the challenges and perks to remote learning during the graduation ceremony for Patton Junior High School ninth-graders May 20 in the Patton gymnasium. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


In addition to the student remarks, Patton graduate Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, served as the guest speaker.


“Even though this year wasn’t what you thought it’d be, you handled each curveball and challenge with grace and confidence. Although you don’t probably recognize it now, you gained skills such as resilience, flexibility, and adaptability that I sure as heck didn’t have at your age,” Funk said. “This is what America does. We overcome challenges. We face into the unknown, we enter the fight, and we win. Your mindset as the next generation, the next greatest generation is critical. Never forget that you are leading the world.”


Funk said he wanted graduates to remember three words — be, know and do.


“Always believe in yourself. Be confident but stay humble and kind. Be empathetic but find the best in others. Emulate their attributes. … Be receptive of constructive criticism.

Approach every problem as a challenge to overcome and as an opportunity to learn and grow,” Funk said. “Thrive on chaos. Be flexible and agile and be ready and willing to adapt and change. Try different things. You do not have to be perfect. It’s OK to fail.

Graduating ninth-grader Gabrielle Ohwovoriole shares her thoughts on the big dreams of her classmates and the teachers who helped them know those dreams are obtainable during the graduation ceremony for Patton Junior High School ninth-graders May 20 in the Patton gymnasium. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

…But learn from your failures. Get up and dust yourself off and try again.


“Know constantly. …Constantly improve your speaking and writing skills. Learn and know the history of our nation. Stay abreast of current events and know what’s going on in our great country. Take courses that might scare you and be out of your comfort zone,” he said. “Do. Do maintain your physical and mental toughness. Always arrive early and leave late. Volunteer. Do the right thing even when no one is looking.”

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