Muncie Southside marks final commencement

MUNCIE, Ind. - Muncie Southside's graduates stayed largely upbeat as they took part in their high school's final graduation ceremony.

Some 185 seniors were recognized during the school's 52nd commencement ceremony Tuesday night at Ball State University's Emens Auditorium, The Star Press reported.

MORE: Staff, students, alumni say goodbye to Muncie Southside High School

Muncie Southside will be a middle school when classes resume for next school year as Muncie Central becomes the district's sole high school. The school board approved the consolidation in December because of tight budgets and a loss of nearly 1,000 students in recent years.

Class valedictorian Elisha North said it was his job to say goodbye.

"I know it is sad to many of you that our high school, our alma mater is no longer a high school," he said. "The fact is, though, that the important things that we remember will not include the school itself -- the things we will remember will be the life skills and close relationships that we developed inside the halls and classrooms."

The consolidation will give the 70,000-resident city just one high school for the first time since 1961. The district has had two high schools since converting the former Muncie Northside into a middle school in the late 1980s.

The parents of some Southside students have vowed to leave the city rather than send their children to Central. But that controversy wasn't evident as relatives and friends to their feet, cheering and clapping, as the names of graduates were called.

Debora White was among 14 relatives on hand to celebrate the graduation of her grandson, Marquese Bell.

"This is my first grandson to graduate," she said with a smile, tears in her eyes. "And it's even more special that he is a part of the last graduating class. What a night."

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