By Bill Schlichting
Pilot staff writer
Hugs, kisses and handshakes were a common site on the Elmer Bankus Field Saturday when members of the largest class in Brookings-Harbor High School history were declared graduates.
A total of 151 students participated in the ceremony that brought the students' compulsory education to an end. Sixteen of those students graduated with honors. It was announced during the ceremony that 130 of the graduates plan to continue their education in the fall. The remainder plan to join the military or go directly into the workforce.
The ceremony began with the students walking onto the football field where they would sit. After the national anthem was played by Skyler Shuford on alto saxophone, a list of introductions took place, including special thanks, introduction of students who earned Certificates of Initial Mastery, the top 10 students and honors diploma candidates.
Salutatorians Michele Banta and Christopher Neighbor gave brief speeches followed by valedictorians Justine Dodgen, Jessica Haglund, Skyler Shuford and Donna Stevens.
Teacher Tim Beuhler was chosen to be this year's faculty speaker. In his speech, he reminded the graduates that, although their school days may be over, each day will continue to provide a learning experience.
He also shared words of wisdom by telling the graduates about the bumble bee. When the insect is placed in a jar, it will seek a way out by trying to go through the glass. The bee will be trapped because it fails to find the opening above it. He admonished the graduates to remember that, when they feel trapped, "always remember to look up."
Receiving the award for teacher of the year was Art Dingle, who is an English teacher, speech team coach, senior class advisor and more. Dingle reminded the students that what they see in the world is what they make of it.
The keynote speaker, who provided the graduates with countless words of wisdom, was Jason Dias of New Braunfels, Texas. His is a nationally recognized speaker, consultant and facilitator in the areas of generational marketing and management. Most of his speeches are provided to credit union professionals.
Prior to the presentation of diplomas, Rebecca Brickley sang the song "Drive" accompanied by Justin Konkel on guitar.
Diploma folders were then issued to each student. Once they were officially declared graduates, the students sprayed each other with Silly String and threw their caps into the air in jubilation.
Later in the evening, many students attended the Safe and Sober Graduation Party at Wild River Pizza.