, Muskogee, OK

May 21, 2010

Hilldale seniors honor late coach

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer


Hilldale High School senior Stephanie Bolen admitted feeling dual emotions as she waited for Friday night’s commencement to begin.

“I’m really excited but kind of nervous,” she said. “I’m excited to be graduating, but I’ve got to sing tonight, so I’m more nervous about singing.”

Hilldale’s commencement, held at Muskogee Civic Center, was a night of song as well as celebration. In addition to Bolen, who sang “You’re Going to Miss This,” a senior combo with Janna Blumenberg, Jordan Brown, Katie Dunn, Michael Richard and Zach Wurzbach performed “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the movie “Toy Story.”

However, the song that brought tears was Christian Myers solo, “Big House,” a contemporary Christian song. Myers dedicated the song to the late Don Hendrix, Hilldale’s head football coach and math teacher, who died in March.

“He was a man unlike any other,” Myers said. “He always had a smile on his face and something good to say. He was such an encouragement.”

Even Valedictorian Julie Nguyen and Salutatorian Melanie Le, wove countless song references in their address, which they gave together. Song references included  “Turn Around,” “We are the Champions” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

“Let us realize that we can only come together when we stand together as one,” Nguyen said. “We made it, hold on to your dream.”

Le added a quip, “Congratulations class of 2010, out of all the people I know, you’re one of them.”

Before the ceremony, Le explained why they chose to give their speeches together.

“It was real fun because we are actually good friends,” she said. “She came up with the idea. And we’re going to OU together.”

Le said she’s not sure what she plans to major in at the University of Oklahoma, “but I want to become a doctor.”

Class members have plenty to be proud of, high school Principal Deborah Tennison said. The class earned a total of $1.6 million in scholarships.

Tennison encouraged the seniors to take pride in themselves.

“Attack life with enthusiasm,” she said. “Opportunity doesn’t come knocking. Opportunity waits.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at 684-2928 or