Sisters High School graduates stepped into the future on Friday night. PHOTO BY CRAIG MAY
Sisters High School graduates stepped into the future on Friday night. PHOTO BY CRAIG MAY
One by one, as the four student speakers delivered their addresses Friday, June 10 at the 74th Sisters High School commencement, a clear theme emerged: gratitude.

Perhaps having the final months of senior year return largely to normal following nearly two years of pandemic tumult gave the class of 2022 enough breathing room to allow them to reflect on the good in their lives.

From start to finish, thankfulness, joy, and celebration marked the ceremony, which was held in a packed Sisters High School gym after two years of socially distanced commencements at the Sisters rodeo grounds.

The Sisters High School jazz choir set the tone for the evening with a moving delivery of the national anthem. Principal Steve Stancliff, in his first year at the helm, then thanked a long list of school staff and community members who worked to make the ceremony happen and finished his remarks with a brief address to the graduates.

“I want to thank you seniors for welcoming me here to Sisters High School,” he said. “I don’t need to tell you that the world you are headed off to needs a healthy dose of your positive energy.”

Stancliff shared a Latin phrase that he keeps in his office: “bonum est diffusivum sui,” which roughly translates to “goodness tends to spread.”

“Do not underestimate your ability as an individual to channel and spread goodness to those around you,” he said.

Greta Davis, a salutatorian and the student body president, gave a welcoming address, focusing largely on her thankfulness for the community and the staff of the school district.

“No matter where we go from here, we are grateful to know that we will always have a family here in Sisters,” she said. “I’ll be forever grateful to have grown up in Sisters. We are in this together, Outlaws forever.”

Members of the senior class performed a heartfelt rendition of Joe Cocker’s version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” before every senior moved into the audience to find a parent or other loved one to whom they presented a rose in a tradition of thankfulness.

Three valedictorians then took the stage to share words with their classmates and the audience.

Jenna Kizziar did a remarkably thorough job of thanking every single high school staff member, with genuine examples of what each provided to the class of 2022.

She concluded by saying, “I think in the same way the staff have greatly affected our lives, our class has the power to do the same to those we will encounter in the future and genuinely believe we will all be successful in having a positive impact on the lives of those around us.”

Rachel Lilley kept the thankfulness theme alive by letting her family, friends, and teachers know how much she benefited from their support.

“I know I am incredibly lucky to be so supported in my life,” she said. “My reason for sharing these examples is to inspire each of you to reflect on who supports you in your life and to lean into that support, not away from it. Sometimes we get stuck on the idea that we have to do everything on our own, but I believe that great success comes only when we have people surrounding us and helping us to do our best.”

Chase Frankl wrapped up the speeches with a philosophical, and humorous, approach, quoting Lao-Tzu from the Tao Te Ching, which was written over 2,600 years ago, “which makes it almost as old as Mr. Runco.”

Lao-Tzu wrote: “Knowing others is intelligent. Knowing yourself is enlightened. Conquering others takes force, but conquering yourself is true strength. Knowing what is enough is wealth and forging ahead shows inner resolve.”

He also shared from the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to illustrate the necessity in life of the “will to do.” He quoted, “Even though sesame is the source of oil and milk the source of butter, there will be no extract if these are unpressed or unchurned.”

Frankl concluded by acknowledging the big changes awaiting the class of 2022 as they depart the halls of Sisters High School.

“We all knew the day would come where everything would change,” he said. “This is that day. Change is not an ending but a beginning for us to look at our dreams and take the next steps into the unknown. I urge you to not settle, don’t sacrifice dreams or goals because of fear of rejection, failure, or being uncomfortable. Don’t just celebrate what you have done, but celebrate what you will do.”

A video featuring senior portraits juxtaposed with baby pictures–proof of the tremendous growth and change of each graduate–preceded the main event: the presentation of diplomas. Principal Stancliff, assisted by Superintendent Curt Scholl and school board members Jenica Cogdill and David Thorsett, delivered diplomas to the 103 graduates. Nineteen of the graduates earned honors diplomas

Senior class president Marieke Jeffrey then instructed her classmates to move their tassels from right to left and officially presented the graduating class of 2022.

Mortarboards flew, friends hugged, and the Sisters High class of 2022 moved toward the future.