Pilot story and photos by Bill Schlichting
The Brookings-Harbor High School class of 2003 was not only called the best class, but had more Certificate of Initial Mastery certificates than any other class in the history of the school.
Of the 110 graduates, 34 received the CIM certificate. These students passed all state math, English and science tests and have submitted passing work samples in all required areas.
According to Vice Principal Dr. George Parke, who introduced the CIM recipients, the certificate will someday be required to enter an Oregon state university.
Because of a tie in grade point average, in this class there were 11 students in the Top 10. These students, introduced by District Superintendent Dr. Paul Prevenas, were Inger Appanaitis, David Booth, Dylan Boye, Jennyfer Brown, Monica Calvillo, Catherine Ferry, Olivia Geraghty, Barton Land, Katrina Parke, Paige Sthen, Rachel VanCleave.
Following a moment of silence for the students of the class who died and teachers who died recently, Principal Dr. Floyd Strandberg introduced retiring educators Pete Payne and Mary Wallace.
Strandberg also gave credit to the junior class for starting a tradition of providing the flowers to decorate the front of the podium.
Another tradition was attempted to be started.
"I would like to start a new tradition," Strandberg said. "When a student receives his diploma, I would like the parents and grandparents of the student to please stand up."
School board Chair Dr. Brian Larsson introduced the salutatorian, Land, and the three valedictorians, Appanaitis, Ferry and Sthen.
Appanaitis talked about her career as a student and thanked her family members for their encouragement and guidance.
Among the things she advised was "Never doing anything for yourself," noting that in everything that life brings, have someone there to help.
She added that the graduates should not sit back and let life control them because they are the ones in control.
"School brought a new appreciation for life," Ferry said in her speech. She called her learning career a positive experience and offered the following advice: "No matter where you go or what you do, stay in touch."
Calling it a cliche, Ferry closed her speech by letting the class know that, "today is the first day of the rest of your life."
Sthen addressed the parents first by letting the parents know that they played a major role in the students' lives.
"Our success is your success," Sthen said.
When addressing her classmates, she said that "we stand before many doors. Some are easy, some are hard" to get through.
It is up to the individuals to decide what to do about unlocking and passing through the doors of life, she said.
"The key can be found if the desire to find it is strong enough," Sthen said.
Joshua Whaley introduced the teacher of the year, Greg Jones. Whaley said the class decided to buy him tickets to a Moody Blues concert for his award.
Jones told the audience that "raising kids involves blood, sweat and tears," but overall "the class of 2003 is the best class in my 27 years of teaching."
Optimism was the driving force behind describing working with the class, and how he perceives the graduates' future, he said.
"I believe you will go out and just kick butt without a doubt," Jones said. He concluded that he "can't wait to see you make things happen in this world."
The keynote speaker was English teacher and drama coach Art Dingle, who said when he thought about giving a speech, he remembered what he heard at other graduation speeches.
He thought about a platitude speech where he tells the students they were about to start a "grand adventure" and that they were about to begin their lives.
"That's a lot of bull," Dingle said, reminding them they have been alive since birth.
He thought he could talk about the memories. "There aren't a lot of good memories with you," Dingle said.
In addition to English and drama, he also teaches speech. This was the first class that had to take a public speaking course as a graduation requirement.
One topic could be about the ultimate lessons, Dingle said. If he chose that path, his advice would be to master the English language, because it brings power not only in the U.S. society, but in the world.
Another lesson would be about making decisions based on either using the brain or going with emotional feelings.
"In choosing between the head and the heart, go with the heart," Dingle said, continuing his talk while facing the students, with his back to the audience.
After Dingle said he could make a political speech, he proceeded to blast Bush administration policies. Hecklers in the audience began to shout him down. Dingle turned around to face the audience
"You didn't ask me to speak, they did," Dingle said, pointing to the class, which drew cheers from the graduates.
"Finally, I decided I should just address you," Dingle said of his decision about what he should talk about.
He described what a hero is and said, "You should not be one." He urged the class not to attempt what is impossible.
"Be a human instead," Dingle said.
The ceremony ended with Prevenas handing diploma folders to the students. Names were read by Summer Worlton, senior class president.