In what has become an annual rite of spring, the latest graduating class for Leadership Greater Ardmore celebrated its graduation during a ceremony Thursday night.

Members of the 22nd class were joined by former graduates and family at the Ardmore Convention Center to celebrate a journey of achievement that began in August. Several special guests also joined the class and received honorary diplomas for their contributions to the program.

The class went through a number of programs designed to enhance their knowledge of Ardmore and better prepare them to accept a leadership role within the community. Among the attributes of the class was the active role it took in the requirement of community service. The class was, for all intents and purposes, an overachiever throughout the year.

“One of the things that amazes me when I look at the classes, each and every year each class assumes a different flavor, a different energy, and it bodes well for the community,” said Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mita Bates. “This year, the class finished with 537 hours of volunteer work, and its shows a real commitment to the community and real heart.”

Bates said in selecting members for the class, candidates with certain characteristics are sought.

“We look at a cross section of the community with tremendous potential to change the community,” she said.

In greeting the class, Leadership chairman Lori Linney talked about her own experiences in taking the course.

“When I started, I thought I new all about Ardmore because I work for the city,” she said. “But you learn so much.

“I hope this has encouraged you to become active citizens and volunteers,” she told the graduates.

The evening was highlighted with a presentation from speaker Brawn Lide. Lide discussed his efforts to develop a church in Austin, which grew from 28 people to 350 prior to him moving back to Ardmore. He highlighted the efforts it took working with others and the lessons learned.

“Understanding the personalities of others allows relationships to grow stronger,” he said. “And the better you understand others, the better you can communicate and allow your influence to grow and develop leadership,” Lide said.

In his discussion, Lide also used a miniature beach ball to emphasize the broader view graduates have developed throughout the course in allowing them to relate to other points of view.

Prior to handing out diplomas for the class, Bates recognized three individuals for their contributions to the class. She reviewed the history and the recognition of the need for a leadership program more than 20 years ago. Bates said Wes Stuckey, the chamber staff and a group of community leaders created the curriculum for the course and incorporated in 1980, creating the first board of directors, which included both Stuckey and Millard Ingram.

Despite their involvement in developing the program, Stuckey and Millard were unable to take the course and were recognized as honorary graduates, as was Annilisa Peevy. Peevy also received special recognition from the 22nd Leadership Greater Ardmore class.

Prior to the class receiving their diplomas, members Blake Bush and Kirk Rodden were named as the new directors from the class.

Members of the class include:

Denise Airington, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce

Joi Bass, Dollar General Distribution Center

Les Brown, EJ

Justin Busey, Arbuckle Area Council Boy Scouts of America

Dr. Blake Bush, Blake Bush Family Eyecare Inc.

Adam Calaway, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Inc.

Heather Chatham, Mercy Hospital Ardmore

Matthew Farve, First National Bank

Ruthie Johnson-Chapman, clinical social worker

Shenita Jones, S&J Restoration LLC

Dillion Jordan, Jordan Insurance Group

Russell Keeton, Southern Oklahoma Technology Center

Sara Kerley, Cities In Schools

Bill Moore, Henry Roberts Express Pharmacy LLC

Jonathan Morris, Lone Grove City Schools

Teresa Myers, The Good Shepherd Community Clinic Inc.

Debbie Pender, Mercy Hospital Ardmore

Randee Pierce, Michelin North America-Ardmore Plant

Gabe Richardson, Jackson and Fox PC

Sarah Richardson, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Inc.

Dr. Bonnie Rigney, Barnes Vision Clinic

Kirk Rodden, MSC-University Center of Southern Oklahoma

Tommy Spradling, Chemical Pump & Supply

John Terry, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs

Daryle Voss, Mercy Hospital Ardmore