Rain held off for a day to allow 124 Brookings-Harbor High School seniors to receive their diplomas Saturday afternoon at Elmer Bankus Field.
A crowd filled nearly every seat in the stadium, chairs set up on the track and bleachers set up on south side of the stadium. People stood up and cheered as the graduates walked in pairs to their seats behind the podium where special speakers, honored students and all students walked to receive their diplomas.
Brookings-Harbor High Schools concert band played the processional and provided entertainment between speakers.
The school jazz ensemble sang the national anthem. The senior members of the group sang one song for the graduates and one song for the audience.
Unlike previous years, not only were diplomas given and honors granted to the valedictorian and salutatorians, recipients of certificates of initial mastery were honored.
To receive a certificate of initial mastery, students must pass state standardized tests in all required subjects. Less than a quarter of the graduates, 27 of 122, received the certificate. The class of 2001 is the first to be given these certificates.
Following the welcome by principal Dr. Floyd Strandberg, the Top 10 students were introduced by district superintendent Dr. Paul Prevenas. However, the list was missing and after a delay, the top students stood up to be recognized.
Betty Moscrip introduced the Oregon Scholars followed by graduate Jessica Carrillo who introduced Darlene Jones, staff speaker.
Jones thanked the graduates for allowing her to share time with them. Following her brief speech, she received a standing ovation from the graduates.
Another teacher who was brought to the podium was Ted Burdett. He was awarded teacher of the year by a vote of the graduates.
Burdett addressed the graduates saying that he chose his profession to make a difference in the future of young people.
You know how I feel about you, Burdett said in closing. I love you.
Students who spoke included salutatorians Kimberly Kerr, Jason Caster and Kristina Hensley and valedictorian Ann Ferry.
Kerr addressed the crowd comparing learning to swim to learning about life.
When people learn to swim, Kerr said people begin at the shallow end and as they improve, move into deeper waters.
But we always have the shallow end in times of trouble, Kerr said, referring that there is always someone to turn to in life.
She also said that in pools, swimmers must contend with chlorine. Swimmers wear goggles to protect their eyes. She compared goggles to helping overcome lifes obstacles.
Caster related life to the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Life starts easy at the elementary level. Youngsters often get through this stage without using any lifelines, Caster said.
The second stage, middle school, is tougher, he said. Preteens may find they have to use a lifeline to get through.
The final stage is high school, Caster said. High school is where we are really tested. Teens need more help, such as the phone-a-friend lifeline.
Graduation is the final million dollar question what next? he said.
Caster said he hoped the class of 2001 will pick the right answer.
Hensley said that graduation is like cleaning house. Its a time when young people must decide what to keep and take with them or discard.
Its a long road ahead, Hensley said.
Things like high school memories should be packed in a box for enjoyment later. Friends should be kept handy in case they are needed, she said.
Parents helped guide us to this point, Ferry said. We are here today because of the fathers, mothers and grandparents who dedicated their lives to raising us.
Siblings also play a part of education, too, she said. Two years ago her brother embarrassed her during a graduation speech. She got her revenge during her speech by telling him his fly was open.
Her speech included telling of the teachers who were most influential in her education. These teachers included Sue Musser, her fifth-grade teacher, who added excitement and a challenge to the class and was an excellent role model; Dianne Kinney, who made math interesting; and band teacher Mike Shepherd, a kind, lighthearted funny guy who motivated me to work harder and volunteered to throw tomatoes at me today.
In closing, she honored a group of people who also helped students achieve: senior citizens.
For every grumpy senior citizen, there are 10 others who are supportive, Ferry said.
The keynote speaker, Tom Flick, was a former collegiate quarterback for the Washington Huskies and a National Football League fourth-round draft pick for the Washington Redskins in 1981. His seven-year career with the NFL included playing for New England, Cleveland, San Diego and New York.
Today he lives in Redmond, Wash., where he uses his degree in communications from University of Washington to be a professional motivational speaker, according to information on his Web site, http://www.tomflick.org. Flick was introduced by graduate Amanda Ingram who said she heard him speak at a Rotary conference.
After Flick discussed successful and unsuccessful moments in his football career that taught him its better to be a successful person than a man of popularity.
He offered advice to the graduates for success.
First, people must have a vision.
Second, the person with the biggest heart wins.
Third, people must have character.
In describing character, he told the story of a fighter pilot who was shot down over Vietnam on his 76th mission. He spent six years as a prisoner, Flick said. When he was released, a man recognized him when he returned home. The man said he packed his parachute. The pilot didnt know the man. But the man said the parachute must have worked.
Even though this man was in the bowels of the ship packing parachutes while the pilot was taking off from the flight deck, the man showed he had character, seeing his job was just as important as the pilots, Flick said.
Flicks final advice was to avoid the false sense that we must do it ourselves. He told the students they have the option of asking God to help them.
God is cheering for you, Flick said You need God to walk with you and be victorious.