Benton Central High School graduated their 51st class students Sunday afternoon with a full house in the school’s gymnasium. The tight-knit community celebrated the achievements of 112 graduating seniors as well as the honored alumni Dr. Michael Greives, class of 1998.

Grieves was the key note speaker for the ceremony, recalling his experiences of growing up in the area and the secret reason for becoming a doctor.

“I’ve never told this any other time,” he said with a smile. “I wanted to become a doctor so I could afford a house and have my own bathroom.” He explained that sharing one bathroom with his family of five growing up was a challenge. He clarified that he has personal satisfaction in his job as a plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas, taking care of children with cleft palate and other facial deformities.

“There are a lot a lessons I’ve learned here in Benton County,” Greives continued. “There had to be a reason I got cut from the basketball team in my junior year… it gave me the chance to explore swimming, a much better fit for my athletic ability.”

Then there was a harder lesson that he learned in 2014.

“I was attending a conference in Indianapolis and I was talking with my mother and she reminded me I was always welcome to come home to get back on my feet,” he stated.

“That’s my best advice…remember you can always come home, where you don’t have to explain your history and they’ll accept you,” Greives concluded. “You are Benton County’s greatest crop.”

Additional highlights of the ceremony included honoring Ashton Davis, Eric Munson, Nathaniel Smith and Eric Spikes for their decisions to enlist in the military. Hayden will be in the U.S. Navy, Munson and Spikes have joined the U.S. Air Force, and Smith has joined the U.S. Marine Corps.

More from this section

Madelyn Smith read an original poem she wrote to honor her mother who passed away 18 months the day of her graduation. The poem is called the Empty Chair.

The speech from the salutatorian, Aaron Sandel, included his advice: remember that winning isn’t a guaranteed verdict, but earned success.

“While at Benton Central i learned that it takes hard work to succeed like no one may expect you to, and then celebrate like it’s nobody’s business,” Sandel said. “ A new chapter is about to start in our life stories, so as we turn to crisper pages, the story continues.”

Valedictorian Alexis Rice is the Eli Lilly Grant winner and will be studying at Butler in the fall. Rice was appreciative of the support of her family and siblings and shared a poem about seasons and how the time together is precious.

With the conclusion of addresses, and a piece sung by the choir, the time came for distributing diplomas. Benton Central Principal Corey Robb read the names and Superintendent Gregg Hoover handed diplomas to the new graduates.