Creswell, Education

Creswell’s seniors start new beginnings

In the courtyard after their commencement ceremony, new graduates Andrew Spriggs and Bentley Watson exchange a hug amidst a sea of jubilant grads and families. Gini Davis/The Creswell Chronicle

Connection, positive thinking and overcoming fear of the unknown were the potent messages lifted from the six commencement speeches given at Creswell High School’s 111th graduation Friday, June 7.
There were 84 students who were graduated, two salutatorians – Tayler Forsman and (Samantha) Jade Ledgerwood – and eight valedictorians: Andrew Spriggs, Claire Gosslee, Zachary Rolfe, McKenzie Traetow, Hallie Drago, Bailey Howell, Tyler Olson, and Destin Halvorson. For the first time this year, CHS also honored three seniors with the Seal of Biliteracy: Michelle Cantoran-Ochoa, Joanna Pantoja and Ruby Quiroz-Ariza.
Co-salutatorian Samantha Jade Ledgerwood thanked her classmates for helping her learn who she was as a person. ”I hope to hold onto each and every one of you. Each one of you will go on and grow. I hope you find your passion and fulfill yourself in whatever actions you chose to take on.”
Hallie Drago and Claire Gosslee, co-valedictorians, did their speech together. Drago spoke about how scary it was as kindergarteners to move into first grade together. She said the time passed in a blink of an eye and while many are scared like they were in kindergarten, it’s okay. Some may know their path after graduation and some don’t, but she reminded them that the true meaning of success is happiness.
Gosslee added that it’s important to be open to change and pursue whatever makes the graduate happy: ”Do it for you and not for other people; you’re the only you you’re stuck with.”
Co-valedictorian Bailey Howell said that she was surprised that she had made it as a valedictorian because of how smart the other seven students were. She praised their accomplishments and said that they – and the rest of the class – all brought qualities to make the class special.
”Regardless of what you do with your life, remember it all started at the small town you call home,” she said. ”It’s not goodbye; it’s see you later.”
Those memories were what Destin Halvorson, co-valedictorian, incorporated into her speech, recollecting everything the 2019 class went through together: the switch from seven periods to six, the awkward braces phase, the Pokemon Go craze and the ”snowpocalypse” earlier this year. She finished her speech with a famous quote from one of their teachers, which ended in the rallying cry of the graduates: ”Wear your seatbelts!”
The last of the student speeches was co-valedictorian Andrew Spriggs, who tried to ease the graduates’ minds of the fear of the unknown – and student loan debt. He cited a statistic that 83 percent of college grads said that the experience was worth it in the long run and that the students should get the most out of what they’re paying for.
Gary Jones, math teacher and keynote speaker, made the point of never giving up on a goal or a dream, despite the roadblocks in the way. He told the story of a gay student, who pushed through homophobia in high school to pursue his dream of being a lawyer in his hometown. What he found when he had landed his dream job was that his co-workers and supervisors were just as homophobic and harassed him the same way the high school students did. He didn’t want to quit and decided to continue to live his life and ignore these individuals, pushing a positive mental attitude until his co-workers got to know him and accepted him.
Although Jones said this wasn’t behavior someone should ever endure, the man’s character and positive mental attitude helped him overcome adversity, and that was the message he wanted to instill in the graduates: ”As you go into the world to be successful, I highly recommend that you take a close look at yourself and develop that positive character trait.” He added that regardless of agreeing with someone religiously, politically, or accepting their sexual orientation, everyone deserves love and respect.
After a round of applause, Principal Adam Watkins presented the medals for biliteracy, valedictorians and salutatorians and the actual graduating began. Students walked across the stage and received their diplomas from the entire school board.
As graduation night grew to a close, and the students left the auditorium to meet with family members, Howell’s message stuck out: ”It’s not goodbye; it’s see you later.”



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