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On Sunday night Blue Girl and I attended the Blue Valley Northwest High School commencement held at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the guest commencement speaker as a result of the school’s finalist status in the White House’s “Race to the Top High School Comencement Challenge” program. The school is located in Johnson County, Kansas, in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The commencement procession – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (center), Dr. Amy Murphy, principal of Blue Valley Northwest High School (right).

Graduating senior Derek Sechi giving his commencement speech.

To everyone’s credit this was a typical high school commencement, presented for and by the graduating students for their families and friends in attendance. The program included a performance of Brahms Paganini Variations, Op. 35 by pianist Christina Yuan and an original composition written and performed by Hailey Lapin, voice and Andy Rao, piano. Interestingly, there wasn’t an overwhelming emphasis on the school’s athletic program.

Being in the arena for the festivities brought back a lot of memories and a bit of post traumatic stress, except, for the life of me, I can’t remember who our commencement speaker was.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Blue Valley Northwest High School faculty (in the foreground) and graduating seniors seated on the arena floor. The media riser is at the back. Directly behind the media riser was the school’s concert band which performed the prelude, processional, and recessional music.