The future is theirs: KSD graduates 12 on Thursday

Published 8:21 am Friday, May 26, 2017

Reminding students to take a deep breath as she started, Kentucky School for the Deaf alumna Sandra Mae Frank encouraged students to challenge the world.

“The future is yours,” Frank said. “You all are the future. Your passion, your goals.”

She said there were many advantages to having gone to the Kentucky School for the Deaf, such as having connections with students in other deaf schools across the country.

“When I got to Gallaudet, I already had friends. I was so thankful to KSD for that networking,” she said.

Frank, originally from Louisville, attended Gallaudet after graduating from KSD. She obtained her bachelor’s of arts degree in performance and production. She has performed on stage, in Deaf West’s “Spring Awakening,” “At Home at the Zoo,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and on screen in “Sound of Fear,” “Soul to Keep,” and a guest appearance in “Switched at Birth.” She has also translated musicals into American Sign Language to make them accessible.

“The world has so much to offer you and you have so much to offer the world,” Frank said. She said through her work in the theater, she had been able to expose the world to American Sign Language and deaf culture.

“Inspire people. No matter what, keep your beliefs in the front of your mind, and do that with the rest of your life.”

She cautioned them that the “world is tough.”

“It is. There will be ups, there will be downs. People will challenge you. They might not even challenge you — they might dismiss you,” Frank said. “They may say, ‘You can’t do that.’ Be prepared for that.”

“The world doesn’t know. The world doesn’t understand. It is your job, it is your responsibility to teach the world to communicate with you.”

She told students to set goals and have dreams.

“It’s your life. It’s your journey,” Frank said, before telling them to never forget where they came from; to be proud of being from KSD.

Students also heard from Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt, who said coming to KSD was the “best part” of his job.

He told the students to see themselves as champions.

“You are the hero of my story. You are the people that make my life worth living and my job worth doing,” Pruitt said. He commended the staff for the love that exists at KSD for the students.

At the end of his speech, he stopped to take a photo with “selfie queen” Nia Ralston, graduating senior and a student who served on the state student council, where she and Pruitt met.

“I have to do this, even though I know it’s going to embarrass her and it’s probably not the most classy thing a commissioner of education can do. We have the selfie queen of the U.S. here. It’s my last chance to get one last selfie with her, so pardon me one second,” he said, stepping off the stage, a moment that was met with laughter and cheers from the crowd.

Students heard from classmates Allanah McBride and Davide Peck, class salutatorian and valedictorian, respectively, who celebrated their memories and encouraged the class to be the leaders they are.

Scholarship recipients were also recognized in the class during the proceeding.

Students performed their class song, “The Best Day of My Life,” by The American Authors, before hearing from Principal Will Begley and Chief Academic Officer Ramona Karsner.

After she signed their class motto, “We’re loud. We’re proud. We’re living the dream. We’re the class of 2017,” McBride recognized her fellow graduates.

The Kentucky School for the Deaf graduated 12 students:

Zoe Andrews, Louisville; Mason Biederman, Danville and Versailles; Caleb Chappell, Glencoe; Alexa Hale, Lexington; Irvin Herrera, Mayfield; Lane Johnson, Williamsburg; Allanah McBride, Greensburg; David Peck, Florence; Nia Ralston, Bowling Green; Matthew Sowders, Somerset; Kaley Vickers, Owensboro; and Tyler Weber, Bagdad.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Seniors at the Kentucky School for the Deaf sign the class song, “The Best Day of My Life” during graduation.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Ramona Karsner, mistress of ceremony and chief academic officer, signs the welcome to the 2017 graduation at the Kentucky School for the Deaf.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt addresses the students at the Kentucky School for the Deaf as Dawn Calbert interprets.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt takes a photo with the “selfie queen,” student Nia Ralston, during the Kentucky School for the Deaf graduation, to the smiles and cheers of those present.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Allanah Lee McBride give the salutatorian address to her fellow classmates, signing that they are “remarkable.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Allanah Lee McBride give the salutatorian address to her fellow classmates, signing that they are “remarkable.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
David Peck, graduating senior at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, issues the valedictorian address during the graduation on Thursday.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Sandra Mae Frank, Kentucky School for the Deaf graduate and noted actress, addresses students at the KSD graduation on Thursday.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Will Begley, principal of the Kentucky School for the Deaf, speaks to those gathered during the Kentucky School for the Deaf graduation.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Ramona Karsner, mistress of ceremony and chief academic officer, challenges the 2017 graduates at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, telling them that the school will always be home, and said “That is KSD.”

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Mason Biederman, of Danville and Versailles, shakes hands with Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt as he graduated from the Kentucky School for the Deaf on Thursday, along with 12 of his classmates.