Ailing educator on minds of Kingston graduates

  • A Kingston graduate gives a white rose to his mom at the KHS Commencement on June 5. Matt Caban • The Madill Record
    A Kingston graduate gives a white rose to his mom at the KHS Commencement on June 5. Matt Caban • The Madill Record

The Kingston High School Class of 2020 gathered June 5 to celebrate the end of their time together in high school. The group gathered for the school’s 110th commencement ceremony.

As celebratory as the mood was, it had a somber tone due to the absence of some familiar faces. Superintendent Brian Brister missed the ceremony to be by his wife Amanda’s bedside at a hospital in Plano following her recent stroke. Amanda Brister, 45, is the library media professional at Kingston High School.

KHS principal Jon Holmes led the graduation ceremonies and asked attendees to keep the Brister family in their prayers.

After the ceremony, salutatorian Coltin Knape said it was good to be back with friends.

“We’ve been doing alumni [week] and it’s good to be back at it again,” he said.

During his speech, Knape said people, he and his classmates included, will go through struggles in life. He also made a shout out to classmate Jesse Northam, who was unable to attend the ceremony as he left for Army basic training earlier in the week.

“We used to be really good friends,” Knape said. “We’ve grown apart the last couple of years, but I still love him and think of him as a brother.”

Knape said there are too many high school memories to recall.

Both Knape and valedictorian Taylor Spence made mention of their initiation into the

Kingston Alumni Association earlier in the week.

“They don’t have anything to do with it after six o’clock after they let us go,” Knape said. “We try to stay safe. My class is kinda lame. We only got 30 of the 90 doing it, but we still had good fun with it.

Meanwhile, Spence said she really struggled to find the words for her speech.

“We had left, and I felt like it’s hard to come back to those feelings of high school after you’ve been gone for three months,” she said. “I just wanted to be really appreciative of the people who had an impact in my live and I wanted to look back at some of the memories that impacted me.”

Spence talked about Mrs. Brister in her speech.

“She’s in the hospital right now,” Spence said. “She had always helped me out from my junior year to my senior year. I wanted to send my love to her and show I support her.”

Spence said recent events have shown her how fragile life is.

“The virus and what happened to her was definitely an eye-opener for us that things can be taken away,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter who you are, you are not invincible to things. I think we’re all thinking of that and appreciative of this experience.”