Charter school honors grads

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Jessica Zipse delivers the student address while Alan Millar, Pamela Bird and Chris Crutcher look on.(Photo: CAMERON RASMUSSON)

SANDPOINT — As Forrest M. Bird Charter School graduates received their diplomas Saturday afternoon, they walked past the words, “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footsteps on the moon.”

In many ways, the quote provided a unifying theme for the entire ceremony of the school’s second graduating class. From a commencement address by author Chris Crutcher to remarks by Principal Alan Millar, Bird Aviation Museum co-founder Dr. Pamela Bird and graduate Jessica Zipse, the idea of a bright and exciting future prevailed throughout the afternoon.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself — it’s about creating yourself,” Bird told the students.

Indeed, many of the students have a solid head start in that creative process. Between all 20 graduating seniors, they’ve accumulated 192 transferable college credits that will be waiting

for them upon enrollment, Millar said. Student Matisse Lovett went so far as to earn an associate’s degree along with her high school diploma. Even better, those college credits are all paid for, taking a big bite out of the need for hefty student loans.

“As the father of a recent college graduate, I urge you parents to get as many of these credits as you can,” Millar said.

Crutcher provided the centerpiece of the ceremony with his commencement address. As the author of several young adult novels that have been targeted for banning, Crutcher urged students to follow their own path and never allow others’ preconceived notions of success to color their ambitions. Above all, he encouraged them to be kind, decent individuals who never lose the joy of their past or the hope in their future.

The school’s namesake, inventor and aviator Dr. Forrest M. Bird, was present to witness the first group of seniors receive diplomas under his name and stood for a picture with them after the ceremony. The school was renamed in his honor in February, and Bird, who turned 92 last Sunday, said he was pleased to be in attendance. His wife, Pamela Bird, held him up as a model for the students to follow.

“He always had naysayers in his life, and you’ll always have your naysayers, too,” she told the students. “So what?”

According to Jessica Zipse, who delivered the student address, the 2013 graduating class has seen a great deal of change over their four years in high school. They saw their school transform from a half-finished construction project into the learning center it is today. Following that model, she encouraged her peers to make their lives an improvement project that never quite finishes.

“It’s only the beginning for the class of 2013,” she said. “Let’s be the first to go farther than the moon and leave our footsteps on the star of dreams.”        

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