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home : education : schools June 20, 2018

6/12/2018 1:04:00 PM
Class of 2018 springs to the future
“Surround yourself with people who make you better.”— Valedictorian Cassidy Ling-Scott photo by Jerry Baldock
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“Surround yourself with people who make you better.”

— Valedictorian Cassidy Ling-Scott photo by Jerry Baldock

By Charlie Kanzig

The gathering of 101 seniors at Sisters High School's 70th commencement ceremony Thursday, June 7, included music, memories - and one last academic, and inspirational, lesson.

Just after 6 p.m. in a gymnasium packed with friends and family of seniors, the school band, under the direction of Tyler Cranor, struck up the processional "Fanfare and Flourishes" prompting the high school staff, led by Rand Runco and Samra Spear, to file in ahead of the students. The traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" set the tone for the celebration as the seniors, in groups of twos and threes, made their way to the seats at the base of the stage.

Principal Joe Hosang then introduced director Rick Johnson and members of the Sisters High School jazz choir, who performed a flawless rendition of the national anthem.

A brief welcome by Hosang followed, including his thanks to all of the people involved in the lives of the graduates. He described the class as being a confident, spirited group that also displayed honor in the way they conducted themselves throughout the four years of high school.

"It's truly been my honor to serve as the principal of this class," he said.

Hosang then turned the stage over to teacher Matt Bradley, requested by the class to be the guest speaker, and, after a brief tongue-in-cheek argument that Chalula hot sauce is the true key to happiness, he took his speaking opportunity to give the group one last academic lesson, complete with powerpoint. The intent was to inspire each one to live their lives based on the ideals of contemplation, compassion, and courage.

Bradley moved about the stage with a style that was a mix of TED talk presenter and preacher, quoting from icons of philosophy, religion, and social justice. He urged the students to live lives in a state of soul versus a state of self: contemplation in the manner of Emerson and Socrates, compassion in the manner of Mother Teresa and the 14th Dalai Lama, and courage in the style of Thoreau and King.

In the second half of his 55-minute talk, Bradley addressed each student by name with a word of encouragement, an anecdote, or an observation. He interacted with the students with a mix of humor and obvious sincerity. The raucous applause he received from the class of 2018 indicated the class's true appreciation of him.

Following Bradley, it was time to hear from valedictorian Cassidy Ling-Scott, who topped the class with a 4.23 grade point average. She shared some of what her classmates and teachers taught her over the years and concluded with what she called "three simple truths."

She said, "One, be yourself, even if it feels that you are standing alone. Two, always work and never give up. Sometimes the road will be bumpy. Three, surround yourself with people who make you better."

She focused on her view of how special the schools and community spirit of Sisters are. She quoted Michelle Obama: "Our greatness comes when we appreciate each other's strengths, when we learn from each other and when we lean on each other."

She concluded, "So go on, class of 2018, do great things and never forget that we have each other and we have this unique place that we call home."

In one final performance, a group of seniors shared the song "Oh My Love," led by Rylee Funk who played the guitar she finished earlier in the week in Tony Cosby's class.

In a long-standing Outlaw tradition of expressing thanks, the seniors distributed flowers to their mothers and others, and once they were back in their seats everyone got to sit back and enjoy a video, produced by senior Eryn Ricker, featuring baby pictures of the graduates.

The business of calling each senior forward for the presentation of diplomas shifted the focus to one of the last rites of passage in the American culture. Within a few minutes, after tassels were moved and Principal Hosang formally presented the graduating class of 2018, mortarboards flew into the air and the fresh batch of Outlaw alums exited to the courtyard to greet their loved ones.

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