WESTON, Mo. — West Platte baseball coach Tanner Lawson took to the stage to address the 2018 graduating class of West Platte High School.
An overflow crowd packed into high school gymnasium to watch 46 students receive their diplomas on Sunday, May 13.
The school also honored its history by reading out the names of the 1968 and 1993 graduating class and having each of the former students in attendance to stand up to be recognized.
Shortly after that Lawson spoke, mixing in humor with sage advice for the latest graduating class.
The Bluejays coach recalled his high school graduation in 1992 and his lofty goals when he walked out the door: never get married, become a millionaire and play pro baseball.
He’s been married for almost 20 years, he is still working on the second and the third dream came up short.
“I guess my point here is, you can have all your future plans laid out, but life doesn’t always steer down your intended path,” he said. “Knowing this before you head out will give you the understanding and guidance needed to adjust your course, while still chasing your hopes and dreams. For most of you, as in my case, the unforeseen detours will supply you with much more happiness than plan A ever would have. That is the exciting part.”
He told the class to always get up and dust yourself off if you stumble because success is often determined on how you respond to situations.
He urged the parents and families to make sure the graduating seniors have a reliable alarm clock for their next ventures in life.
Lawson then added a bit of humor into his speech.
“Just between you and me, this graduation ceremony is already way better than mine, because I get to speak,” he said. “You see, had I spoke at mine, that would have meant that I was either No. 1 or No. 2 academically. Although I wasn’t one of the top two, I was still very nervous because if by chance the 15 people ranked higher than me didn’t show, the pressure of speaking would have fell on my shoulders.”
Valedictorian Aidan Sullivan invited salutatorian Rachel Heili to join him in a speech. The two talked about growing up in West Platte and the journeys in each building.
Sullivan brought up a notable challenge for the graduating class just last spring — the death of teacher and coach Nate Danneman.
“We experienced tragedy and we won’t forget the impact Coach Danneman made on us. We love you coach,” Sullivan said.
Later in his speech, just before the diplomas were handed out by the board of education, Sullivan’s final words highlight the importance of the day, while channeling a famous John F. Kennedy quote.
“One final reminder, ask not what your mother can do for you, ask what you can do for your mother.”