April and May bring the year’s final celebrations for Ottawa High School students. These activities signify the end of the year and the final days of our senior students. The grandeur of prom and its festivities begin the final weeks. We then move to Senior Awards Night and Mr. and Ms. OHS, with the events culminating in our commencement ceremonies on Mother’s Day. This year, these events have taken on a different feel as we bid a fond farewell to a special class of seniors.

The juniors provided an incredible prom — “A Black Tie Affair” — for the seniors. The high school saw more than 200 students in attendance at the formal dance, which is more than we have seen in a number of years. Once again, our After Prom Committee (consisting of junior class parents) put on a spectacular show. Every year, there seems to be an outpouring of community support to provide our students a fun and safe environment into the early morning hours. I would like to thank Shawn Denton and Brian Hutton for sponsoring our prom event, as well as all of the student helpers who made this prom memorable. Furthermore, I would like to thank all of our parents who put in the hours organizing the after prom, as well as all of the community business partners who provided the prizes and other items for our kids.

The high school’s annual Senior Awards Night is planned for Wednesday. This ceremony provides us the opportunity to recognize our students who have been awarded an academic scholarship or award. The most incredible part of this night comes with the understanding that our local community will hand out nearly $200,000 in scholarship money to OHS students, as well as memorialize those past OHS students who have left foundations to help current students achieve success.

We will hand down our most prestigious award offered to a current Cyclone Friday afternoon. The Mr. and Ms. OHS awards were developed to recognize those senior students who gave of themselves throughout their four year careers at OHS — going well beyond expectation in the areas of scholarship, character, attitude and participation in school events. This year’s candidates include Hannah Thomas, Sara Soph, Jessie Bittner, Amanda Stinebaugh, Cale Paquett, Glen Coffman, Semi Ojeleye and Dillon Boeh. I am very proud of this group of seniors and their pride in OHS, as well as their commitment to our community and, most of all, to education.

Our festivities culminate in the greatest celebration of all, as we bid farewell to the 2013 senior class. Commencement ceremonies are planned for 2 p.m. May 12 at Steve Grogan Stadium, 1120 S. Ash St. OHS and its staff have worked extremely hard during the past few years to increase the rate of graduation for our seniors, and we are finally beginning to see the fruits of that labor. Just two years ago, we graduated only about 74 percent of the students who enrolled in our school. Last year, we saw that number rise to about 80 percent. With the class of 2013, we are expecting another large increase in those students meeting the district requirement to graduate.  

As my first year as OHS principal draws to a close, I am amazed at how quickly it has gone. I could not have asked for a better group of leaders to model our expectations of our current and future Cyclones. I am looking forward to these events and the opportunity to share in the celebration of our students’ success. I would like to invite everyone to our commencement exercises to share in life’s next step for what is truly one of the best classes to ever graduate from OHS.  

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.