Friday, May 15, 2020

Exeter-Milligan 2020 Graduation COVID Style

Exeter-Milligan held their graduation as scheduled on Saturday, May 9 despite the COVID-19 quarantine.
The district was able to keep to the directed health measures with just nine graduates in the class of 2020.
The biggest change in their normal ceremony was the change in venue, instead of a ceremony in the gym in Exeter, the football field in Milligan was the site chosen for the socially distant event.
Parents and immediate family were able to attend the event but were asked to stay in their vehicles. 

Parents had designated parking spots to have a front row view of the event.  The audio was broadcast through a FM radio frequency but the strong wind that came up just as the ceremony started made some of the speeches difficult to hear.
The district also broadcast the ceremony over Striv for those who wanted to be a part of the day but because of social distancing and travel were not in attendance.
The nine seniors walked out to their designated spot on the football field spaced out more than six feet apart.  Awaiting them at their spot were a mailbox from the district which was decorated with the school logo, and their diploma.
Caitlin Murphy and Kayla Geiger gave the senior thoughts despite the strong wind and the occasional raindrop.
Superintendent Paul Sheffield instructed the students to accept their diplomas and presented the class of 2020.  The graduates moved their tassels over to lots of horns honking and applause.
To students were individually walked off the field by their parents.  After all the students were escorted off the field the class returned to collect their mailboxes and took a moment for an unplanned group hug and a traditional mortar board toss.

Courtesy photo 1 –
Cp 2 –
Cp 3 –

Exeter-Milligan 2020 graduates.  From the left in the back row are Eli Johnson, Nick Hayek, Ryan Sharp, Max Zeleny and Ty Underwood.  Front row from the left are Alexis Turrubiates, Caitlin Murphy, Anna Sluka and Kayla Geiger. (Courtesy photo)
Exeter-Milligan 2020 graduates from the left are Alexis Turrubiates, Caitlin Murphy, Anna Sluka and Kayla Geiger. (courtesy photo)
Exeter-Milligan 2020 graduates from the left are Max Zeleny, Nick Hayek, Eli Johnson, Ryan Sharp and Ty Underwood. (courtesy photo)
Caitlin Murphy shares some senior thoughts at the Exeter-Milligan graduation ceremony on Saturday.
Tom and Karen Sluka walk with their daughter after Saturday’s graduation ceremony in Milligan.
Above - After the Exeter-Milligan graduation ceremony the class of 2020 took a moment for a spontaneous huddle on the football field.
Below – After the Exeter-Milligan graduation ceremony the class of 2020 let their mortar board’s fly in the wind to celebrate.

Kayla Geiger shares some senior thoughts while Anna Sluka holds her notes in the wind at Saturday’s Exeter-Milligan graduation.
Cars line the football field with specatators at the Exeter-Milligan Graduation

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Throwback Thursday - Week of May 11 2010

The Exeter Senior Center once again hosted their Senior to Senior breakfast. This gives the graduating seniors an opportunity to celebrate their graduation with their grandparents and great-grandparents.  This was the ninth year the Senior Center has hosted the breakfast.

Death Notice
Wayne L. Moore Age 81 of York, Nebraska formerly of Exeter died in Lincoln on Sunday May 9, 2010

The Exeter American Legion Auxiliary honored the families of fallen Exeter heroes on Monday evening. They held their annual Gold Star Tea with two Gold Star sisters present. Jane Kaiser was a sister to Arthur Becker who was killed in World War II and Sharon Dyer was a sister to Kenneth McLeese who was killed during the Vietnam War.

The Fillmore County Historical Society did their part in trying to help Exeter-Milligan, Fillmore Central, and Shickley fourth graders learn about the history of their county on Tuesday afternoon. The tour of the Fillmore County Museum included eight stations for the fourth graders to explore and experience during the day long event.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Exeter-Milligan Seniors Making New Memories

 Brian, Caitlin and Angie Murphy all dressed up for the at home prom night.
 Tom and Anna Sluka had their own prom dance in downtown Milligan.

Sporting their prom dresses on cruise night from the left are: Emma Olsen, Kayla Geiger, Georgia Meyer, Anna Sluka and Cammie Harrison.

Celebrating all of those “last time” moments when you are a high school senior are bittersweet and this year’s senior class has not had the opportunity to make those memories of prom and graduation but a few Exeter-Milligan seniors and their families have taken the time to create their own memories.

Anna Sluka and her mom, Karen, shopped early this year for a prom dress because “we knew April would be busy,” explained Karen.

The corona virus hit and things came to a complete stop.  As the once busy month of April began, Karen noticed that Anna started to take note of the things she was missing like the trip to Galveston, Texas the seniors had planned.  “She would say, ‘I am supposed to be sitting on the beach right now getting my tan on,’ which was the weekend we got all of the snow.”

On the spur of the moment, according to Karen and husband Tom, they decided to “Grill some steaks, decorate the room, Anna got her prom dress on and Tom got dressed up.” 

With everyone dressed up they decided to visit Tom’s mom, Grandma Sluka, and then thought they would got to Milligan and cruise around.

Cruising in front of the auditorium where Prom is usually held Tom realized they could have a dance down main street as part of their celebration. 

Anna, who is the youngest of the five Sluka children, was thrilled. “For me it was a special moment to have my dad as my prom date.  It’s something my siblings never had. It’s a moment I will cherish forever.”

The Sluka’s have been soaking up this last year of school, “We have been taking in each event knowing it was our last one  As far as prom goes I don’t want anyone to date my daughter,” explained Tom.  

Anna reassured him that all out of all of her prom and homecoming dates he was the best one.

Tom added, “Anna has been such a good sport about all of the things she has missed.  I am honored she would ask me to go to the prom.  We are so proud of her and how she has handled this situation.”
The Sluka’s were also adamant in their praise of how Exeter-Milligan has gone above and beyond to honor the seniors.

“There is no place like Exeter-Milligan,” quipped Anna, “It’s really special.  I have friends from other schools that aren’t getting what we are getting.  It means a lot to me and our whole class.  They are really making the best out of this crappy situation.

Tom added, “Small towns and small schools are still trying to do some of these special things.  They are doing the best they possibly can.”

During the first cruise night in Exeter, senior Kayla Geiger and her boyfriend Sam Otte (a Nebraska Lutheran senior) dressed up, Sam brought Kayla flowers and candy and they made their own special event.

Prom dresses have also made an appearance at other cruise nights as the girls want to show their special outfits.

Another set of senior parents, Brian and Angie Murphy also wanted to do something special to honor their daughter Caitlin’s prom night.  “We had pictures, a nice prom dinner, and then a mini-dance complete with a YouTube laser show and lots of laughs,” according to Angie.

The Murphy’s went a step further and added a post prom to their fancy evening.  They included Wii bowling and a family game of pitch.  No reports on who won. 

Caitlin enjoyed the evening and “thought the ‘prom night’ was a fun way to celebrate during an unconventional time.  It was special to be able to wear my dress and document the occasion even though we were unable to have prom.”

As teachers in the district the Murphy’s have experienced firsthand both sides of the effect of the pandemic on seniors, from a parents and a teachers perspective.  Angie was very positive about the way the district is honoring the seniors, “I was pleasantly surprised to find out about the banners in downtown Exeter and the yard signs at the Milligan football field. Watching the video downtown was really fun too.”

As far as the loss of special events the students are missing Angie added, “I think it’s hard; the situation has left a big hole for the students, and even the parents. There are so many lasts  that won’t happen for this group of kids. That being said, they had a lot of experiences in their high school careers that some of the younger students won’t get to have. As a teacher, I think it’s hard for everyone, and I think when we look back we will find things we could do better.”

Caitlin summed up her feelings on the quarantine situation, “The end of my senior year has definitely been unexpected, but I believe Exeter-Milligan is trying to make the best of the situation for all students.  I greatly appreciate the senior video being projected in both towns, the banners on Main Street in Exeter, and the yard signs at Milligan’s football field.  The school has responded thoughtfully, and although the situation is far from ideal, Exeter-Milligan is still providing opportunities and recognition for the class of 2020.”