The 2009 graduating class of Center Place Restoration School had 33 students participate in commencement exercises Saturday at the Independence school.

Kirsten Baker did not set out to be one of eight valedictorians at Center Place Restoration School.


However, when she walked up to the stage to give her speech, she was proud of what she had accomplished.


“It is definitely a good feeling to be one of those honored,” she said. “I have grown up with so many of these people, so it is good to be standing among them. I worked hard the last four years.”


The 2009 graduating class of Center Place Restoration School had 33 students participate in commencement exercises Saturday at the Independence school.


Eight valedictorians were recognized at the ceremony including Baker, Savannah Etter, Caleb Geno, Joe Kellinger, Andrea Levengood, Jason Martens, Mindy Reynolds and Abagail Williams. Each student had earned and maintained at least a 4.2 grade point average. The class also featured three students who earned a 30 or above on the ACT exam.


Richard Neill, principal at Center Place Restoration, said he has mixed feelings about seeing the senior class graduate. He said that although he is happy for them to move onto other things outside of high school, he said because of the small class, he has an opportunity to build close relationships with each student.


“It is really good to bond with these students,” he said. “When you develop that kind of close relationship with them, it is hard to see them go. I am very proud of what they have accomplished.”


Kellinger said he has always tried his hardest in school and was proud to be honored as a class valedictorian. He said that although he was surprised to see so many people accomplish the same thing, he was happy to share it with others.


“I think this whole thing is pretty cool, but I am looking forward to the future,” he said. “The most important thing to remember, however, is not to procrastinate your senior year. Get everything done because it makes it all a lot easier.”