SANDPOINT — "Live a life that you would want to relive."
These were the words of advice to Sandpoint High School's class of 2017 by their student body president, Elizabeth Parsley.
Also addressing the senior class was co-salutatorian Abigail Kassa, who said the most difficult thing about graduating is parting with her classmates, many of whom went to school together since kindergarten.
"Although sad for this parting of ways, I am beyond excited to see where life takes each and every one of us," Kassa said.
The 2017 graduating class had more than 40 students graduating with honors or high honors, and many more who have already accomplished so much as they prepare to move on to the next stage of their lives.
This year, Liz Marshall took a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit with Envision, a national leadership program, and is one of the youngest graduates in the class, just behind classmate Gabi Burns. Burns graduated at 16 years old and heads to Vassar College in the fall after being awarded a full-ride to the school. Nichol Reed served as Distinguished Young Woman and Hannah Fingel was named a National Merit Scholar.
And that's just a few of the accomplishments of Sandpoint's class of 2017.
SHS is coming up on its 110th year as an accredited high school, and with right around 200 graduates, the class of 2017 was the smallest graduating class since 1995. Friday's graduates made their way, two at a time, across Memorial Field and around the construction fence to become the first to sit in the new, unfinished grandstands at War Memorial Field.
SHS principal Tom Albertson said each of the teens took a different road to graduation — some took the paved freeway with few detours, some were world travelers taking to the airways, and some took the long, curving mountain road. Some, Albertson said, had to be pulled out of the ditch a few times to get back on the road to graduation.
"No matter what road, you made it here tonight," Albertson said. "You are prepared for the next journey with confidence, aptitude and work ethic. Take time to reflect on what you have learned and match that to your goals. Good luck on your next stretch of road and thank you for your dedication."
Fingel, co-salutatorian, left the her classmates with the "17 important things" she learned through high school, which she will carry with her into the next stage of her life.
First, she said, high school has prepared her for the insufficient amount of sleep she will probably be getting for the rest of her life. Next, she learned to always, always check the stall for toilet paper. From her calculus teacher — "don't drink and derive." A couple other tips include, "try everything," such as clubs and sports, etc., and if you are "going to throw your life away on a boy, he better have a motorcycle."
Finally, she said, it just takes one person to change the world.
"I hope that this is the lesson that our class remembers," Fingel said. "And not only remembers, but that they teach it and prove it ... because even know we are all headed to different places, different careers, different lives, the class of 2017 is the same in at least this one aspect — that we will all be difference makers and world changers.
Valedictorian Delaney Search delivered her speech in the form of a poem following a chuckle from the crowd as she began with the first line from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" — "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears."
"Many times high school has brought me many tears, but I made it through and so did you, and now it's time for something new," Search began, going on to describe the different trends and achievements throughout each year in high school, from freshmen to upperclassmen.
"They said junior year was the hardest, they lied; senior year workload was the largest," she continued. "Scholarships, job interviews, college decisions to name a few, we look back on freshman year and can't believe how much we grew.
"Some people said senioritis wasn't real, but trust us, we know how it feels. But we pushed through and persevered, and we may be coming out a little weird. Next year we wonder how we will even buy shampoo, but we are incredibly excited for something new."
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.