Setting the stage

Juniors celebrate ring ceremony


photo credit: Casi Thedford

Zero to hero \\ Using analogies of heroes and villains, Mrs. McKenna Tooke gives juniors a speech about deciding between good and bad. She was the guest speaker at the ring ceremony Nov. 1.

writer: Hannah Hansen, Editor-in-Chief

Juniors had their ring ceremony Monday, Nov. 1 at the school auditorium at 6pm.

“The ring ceremony started with our old AP, Jay Ratcliffe,” Associate Principal Adam Jacobson said. “It was a college tradition he had from A&M that we adopted.”

Before the ceremony, students ask a teacher that they’ve had in the past that had a large impact on them to present their ring to them on the stage. 

“Mrs. Jill Hill presented my class ring because she has been not only a mentor but an advocate for me,” junior Mikalah Hodge said. “Mrs. Hill is genuinely one of the strongest women I know. She has worked tirelessly to create a safe space for me and other students here at East.”

Students do not necessarily have to pick a teacher from the school. There were teachers from Akin Elementary, Burnett Jr High and Watkins Elementary at the ceremony.

“I like that kids get to pick a teacher ‒ not necessarily a Wylie East teacher, or even someone from this district,” Associate Principal Jacobson said. “That’s really cool.”

During the ceremony, there was also a guest speaker to talk to the juniors. This year’s guest speaker was Mrs. McKenna Tooke, a first-year English II teacher.

“I was really excited because my junior year of high school was the hardest year of my whole life so getting to talk to juniors that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk to and being able to potentially impact them meant a lot,” Mrs. Tooke said.

Mrs. Tooke is also an alumna from this school, having graduated in 2013.

“I love that I can try to make a difference in a place where I experienced the same things in the same place that my kids are experiencing these things,” Mrs. Tooke said.

She spoke to juniors about how crucial and formative these years in high school are and how they can shape students’ perceptions of good and bad. She referenced various pop culture staples such as DC comics, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. 

“I hope that juniors that were listening to me felt empowered and encouraged,” Mrs. Tooke said. “If I could tell juniors one thing and they would believe me, I would say you are important and valuable, and things can get better.”

If I could tell juniors one thing and they would believe me, I would say you are important and valuable, and things can get better.

— Mrs. Tooke

Juniors were then called across the stage in alphabetical order based on last names by their Assistant Principal. When they got to the stage, the teacher they had asked presented them with their class ring in a box.

“I asked Mr. Peri to present my ring because I had him for chemistry my sophomore year and he was such a great teacher; I even decided to do AP Chemistry this year,” junior Bella Cloud said.

Students asked teachers from elementary and middle schools, as well as coaches and different fine arts teachers, such as from band, choir and theatre.

“My favorite part was getting to see the variety of teachers chosen by all of the students,” Cloud said.

The ring ceremony is also a meaningful way for students to show teachers how much they might have impacted their lives.

“I had heard horror stories about chemistry, but when I got into the class, Mr. Peri made it really fun and it actually made sense,” Cloud said. “Now, I may even want to go into a career field involving chemistry, so he’s had a huge impact on my high school experience.”

Juniors have the ring ceremony as a celebratory night dedicated to marking them as upperclassmen and inviting them to look forward to the future.

“My favorite part of the ceremony was Mrs. Tooke’s speech,” Hodge said. “I feel like it really symbolizes the profound changes we have already faced and the ones that are yet to come.”

This year, 207 students participated in the ring ceremony.

“This year, there was a lot more energy and enthusiasm in the audience,” Associate Principal Jacobson said. “Typically, it’s more formal and polite, but this year, people were screaming and hooting for their friends.”