PRIEST RIVER — Be compassionate, be honest, treat people with respect and dignity, and be responsible for your own actions.
These are the traits Priest River Lamanna High School principal Joe Kren said he wants the class of 2018 to remember and live by as they go out into the world.
"Own your behavior and don’t blame anybody except yourselves," Kren said. "If you make a mistake, accept it, learn from it and move on. Remember where you came from, and the family and friends who helped you along the way. And finally, strive for greatness."
The 53 PRLHS graduates accepted their diplomas during Saturday's graduation, preparing to go their separate ways. Some will go directly into the workforce, some will go off to college or trade school, and some have enlisted in the military.
Kren recognized a few of these individuals during the ceremony. Graduates Jason Smitley and Ty Ward are enlisted in the Idaho National Guard, and Konner Belding-Durham in the United States Navy. Another special recognition by Kren was given to Dylan Glazier, who graduated Saturday for the second time. About a month before his high school graduation, Glazier graduated from North Idaho College with an associate's degree.
This year's class valedictorian Spencer Sedgwick also took the opportunity to recognize Glazier. He said since the senior class president and vice president addressed the class prior to his speech, he chose to address the parents in the audience who have children still in school. Glazier graduated through the state's dual credit program.
Sedgwick's speech was titled "Soda Machines" as he compared high school to a soda machine, using original soda machines in fast food restaurants in comparison to the new ones seen in some establishments with touch screen options. A couple of years ago, he said, PRLHS got a new soda machine that "a lot of people don't really know about." It doesn't come with high fructose corn syrup or caffeine — or student debt, Sedgwick said.
"This fancy soda machine I'm talking about is the Fast Forward program, which provides every student attending an Idaho public school $4,125 to use toward advanced opportunities in grades seven through 12," Sedgwick said.
While several of the graduates garnered some college credit, Sedgwick commended Glazier as the first PRLHS student to take "full advantage" of the program and receive a college degree prior to his high school diploma. Because there are a couple of juniors attending NIC full time this year, he said, next year there will be a couple more PRLHS graduates with college degrees.
"If you are a parent of a student who is not graduating today, I would like to encourage you to gently nudge your child into the Fast Forward program," Sedgewick said. "... Thank you for your time, and congratulations to the class of 2018."
Salutatorian Randy Stuart said he still remembers computer classes at Priest River Elementary when the teacher had mentioned the year 2018 was when they would graduate.
While he said he didn't want to sound "cliche," he told his classmates to be "the best you that you can be — be original."
"Do good things, because everything is about to change," Stuart said. "Don't hold onto your category, don't hold onto your clique; let go of everything that isn't you ... As the statistic goes, today we are about to say goodbye to 90 percent of the people we know, and we will likely never see all of our classmates in the same place again. So, I would like to bid you all a very fond farewell."
Senior class president Brittaney Millward and vice president Lillith Hernandez gave a joint address during the ceremony titled, "We're Not That Bad." Some have said the class of 2018 has been a challenging class, the duo said, as they were the culprits who got the senior brunch taken away and may have been the leading factor in cameras being installed in several locations throughout the building.
"This all may be extremely true, but hey, we are still not that bad," Hernandez said. "Because when you really get to know our class, anyone can see that we are a unique group of young adults who can accomplish anything we want to."
The keynote speaker for the event, who has previously been dubbed "school dad," was school resource officer Sgt. Chris Davis.
Davis said he titled his address, "Not the End, the Beginning," because it is the beginning of something they can make their own, as they did with their senior projects.
"You guys are in charge of this next novel, and only you can write it," Davis said. "I am very proud of you guys and am I so excited to watch what your future brings ... It has been a pleasure to watch you guys grow up."
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.