Spring 2017 Graduation Ceremony


Friday, May 12, 2017


This event has ended.

Students who have completed certificates, diplomas, or associate degree programs during the Fall 2016, Spring 2017, or Summer 2017 semester are eligible to participate in the Spring 2017 Graduation Ceremony.

Students must fill out the graduation application and purchase their cap, gown, and tassel to participate in commencement.

The graduation ceremony will be held at the University of Northern Iowa McLeod Center in Cedar Falls. Guests will not need a ticket to attend the Commencement Ceremony.

Student Speaker Hayley Ritter

 Hayley grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa and attended Cedar Falls High School, where she was involved in orchestra and cheerleading throughout her high school career. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, and going to local coffee shops. She loves to meet new people and experience new adventures.

In the fall of 2015, Hayley started attending Hawkeye Community College to pursue a Liberal Arts Transfer degree. She quickly became involved on campus as a Student Ambassador and eventually a Student Ambassador Leader. She also worked on campus in the Admissions office and also had a couple of off-campus jobs.

Hayley plans to stay in Cedar Falls and transfer to the University of Northern Iowa to study communications and journalism. She’s hoping to move to Florida someday to pursue her career and for the warmer weather.

Keynote Speaker Aaron Thomas

 Aaron Thomas was raised in Parkersburg, Iowa, and graduated from Aplington-Parkersburg High School. After high school, he attended Drake University, where he was a four-year letter winner on the basketball team. He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and did a short stint at St. Cloud State University as a graduate assistant basketball coach.

He began his teaching career at Union High School in La Porte City, where he served as assistant principal, athletic director, and head basketball coach. He also earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Drake University.

Aaron has a passion for impacting lives, something he learned from his father, Ed Thomas, who was a beloved high school football coach who trained generations of players on the importance of hard work, dedication, excellence, and commitment. Ed embodied these values and put them into action as a community leader, inspiring his town to rebuild in the wake of a deadly EF-5 tornado on May 25, 2008.

Just a year later, the Thomas family and the entire Aplington-Parkersburg community was dealt another devastating blow when Ed was fatally shot by one of his former players who suffered from mental health issues.

In the wake of this tragedy, Aaron was approached to return home and take over his father’s responsibilities as athletic director and build on the legacy his father had created as a school and community leader. Aaron and the rest of the Thomas family called for understanding and forgiveness, just as Ed would have wanted them to do.

The Thomas family were awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2010 ESPY Awards and Aaron received the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Most Courageous Award. The accomplishments of Ed Thomas and the family’s work to continue his legacy were chronicled in the 2012 book, The Sacred Acre.

Aaron is now principal and head basketball coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School. Aaron, his wife, Ellie, and their three sons are active in the community.

Graduation Ceremony Recording

Students, family, and friends can purchase a DVD of the graduation ceremony. Pre-order today.


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