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‘We did it!” BHHS grads celebrate education milestone

Graduates dance to the song "I've had the time of my life" before they graduate on Saturday. The Pilot/Scott Graves
Graduates dance to the song "I've had the time of my life" before they graduate on Saturday. The Pilot/Scott Graves
Speeches were made, hands were shaken, caps were thrown, hugs were given and tears were shed at the Brookings-Harbor High School Class of 2012 commencement ceremony Saturday as 103 seniors graduated.

During the windy ceremony on Elmer Bankus Field, graduates, their friends and family, staff and community members listened to Sea Breeze members perform a few numbers including the national anthem, a presentation of the Academic Excellence and Honors Diplomas recipients, and to speeches by the salutatorians and valedictorians, teacher of the year, faculty speaker and keynote speaker before the roll call for diplomas.

As expected, the ceremony was serious, full of reflection and inspiration. Yet at times it was also light-hearted and funny.

During the roll call, the students continued the practical joke tradition on the principal.

Instead of shaking BHHS Principal Larry Martindale’s hand after receiving their diplomas, this year the graduates handed him a yellow, rubber duck. 

They hoped he would have so many ducks in his hand he would look silly, but a wading pool was the ultimate recipient of about 99 ducks, each with a grad’s name on the bottom.

After each name was called and all the ducks were in order, the graduates broke into a flash mob and danced to “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and sprayed silly string all over one another before Superintendent Brian Hodge was able to officially graduate the Class of 2012.

But before all of the jubilee began, names had to be called and speeches had to be made.

Academic Excellence and Honors Diplomas

Thirteen graduates earned Academic Excellence this year ­– an honor reserved for students who maintained a 3.75 GPA.  

These students wore a purple cord, and were called to the stage to receive a certificate from Martindale.

Martindale also recognized those students who earned an Honors Diploma. 

To be eligible for the Honors Diploma, students had to take specific core classes including Advanced Placement and college level courses, a specific number of years of math, science, foreign language and advanced electives, pass the Oregon Assesment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test and maintain a 3.5 GPA, Martindale said. 

Thirteen graduates who wore a white cord to signify the achievement received an embossed seal on their on their diploma to note the honor. 

 

Valedictorian and Salutatorian addresses

Salutatorian Shantell Goodwin said Saturday was a day to say goodbye to the last four years as they embark on a new adventure, together the graduates will take the first step in a new chapter in their lives and that Saturday was the last time the Class of 2012 will stand as one. 

Shantell thanked her teachers and her mom, Valerie Goodwin, for never giving up on her as well.

In his address, salutatorian Will Morris, who moved to Brookings at the end of sixth grade, said at first everyone was so different, it seemed impossible to fit in.

But Morris was wrong, he said.

He said the Class of 2012 is a diverse class, and there is no other class he would want to graduate with. He joked they will go on to be doctors, lawyers, prisoners and homeless.

Morris took a moment to thank the staff for the knowledge they taught him, his family, friends, brothers, girlfriend and mom, Terrie Bratton, for their support.

Valedictorian Autumn Gardner then read a poem she wrote in place of a speech.

In the poem, Gardner talked about her journey to graduation.

She touched on her school experiences, including academics and the social aspects of high school, and thanked her boyfriend, mom and family for their support.

Valedictorian Chase Davis said standing at the podium to give his valedictorian address was the proudest moment of his life.

He thanked his family, friends and parents, Roy and Kimberly Davis, for coming and for “all that they have done and will do later in life.”

He advised younger students to try hard because “you never know what you can achieve,” and congratulated the class.

Last but not least, valedictorian Melissa Wilson spoke.

Wilson said when writing her speech she considered what growing up in the Brookings-Harbor community meant. 

She found it means the community comes together and that change is rare – the recent opening of Bi-Mart is the most change the community has seen in a long time, she said. 

Wilson took time to thank her dad and teacher, Bob Wilson, for his impact on her life, and her mom, Barbara Wilson, for teaching her life lessons. 

Finally, she  said that most of the Class of 2012 will not change the world, but making a difference in the lives they serve is a life well spent.

 

Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year Art Dingle’s time at the podium was short and sweet. 

He said a few words about all of his English classes.

First period: “Thanks for being sweet and sleepy.”

Second period: “You’re the smallest group I had, but diverse.”

Third period: “You’re a lively, lovely intelligent group. Thanks.” 

Fourth period: “I need a do-over.”

Fifth period: I can’t believe you’re here! Most of you couldn’t make it to class on time.”

 

Faculty speaker

Faculty Speaker Diane Kinney said she was honored and surprised when she was asked to speak at graduation because last school year, 2010-2011, she was the Dean of Students at BHHS.

“This year’s class is a beautiful reflection of our community, parents and school,” she said.

As an example, Kinney, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, showed the audience a quilt that more than 30 BHHS students decorated for her. There was a hand-crafted message on each square of the quilt.

 

Keynote speaker

Keynote speaker Alice Farmer shared a few life experiences with the graduates that demonstrated it is possible to be successful regardless of one’s background.

She told them her family moved to Brookings in the early 1980s and opened a Chinese restaurant.

At 10, she cleared tables and washed dishes. 

Later she was promoted to cashier.

At 13, Farmer’s parents divorced, which did not surprise her because they had a prearranged marriage.

Farmer said that, although she was raised by low-income, low-educated and non-English-speaking parents, they still taught her valuable life lessons: “You must earn respect and honor. It is not automatically given; don’t worry about things you can’t control. It is human nature to not be comfortable with change and the unknown; and life is not easy and life is not fair. Knowing this aids in accepting and dealing with life.”

 Even though her parents were not very involved in her schooling, Farmer was still able to graduate from BHHS in 1991 and attend Oregon State University.

She said high school workshops and financial aid provided the support and assistance she needed to be successful.

She specifically thanked former Kalmiopsis Elementary School physical education teacher Bev Rose, Kalmiopsis fifth-grade teacher Perry Kleespies and math teacher Jim Keys for creating an opportunity for students – she said she was able to graduate from OSU because of them. 

Whether it be college, trade school, the military or the workforce, Farmer encouraged each grad “to try to remember some of these lessons. Try to find something that inspires you to give back.”

Farmer closed with three final pieces of advice: “The smallest good deed is better than the greatest intention, there is no better exercise for the heart than lifting someone up and you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”

Once all commencement activities were finished, the graduates threw their caps in the air, breathed a sigh of relief and cheered at their accomplishment. 

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