Probably the whole town knew the Brookings-Harbor High School Class of 2000 had just received its diplomas.

The early Saturday evening calm was punctuated by popping fireworks that were fun to watch even in the fading sunlight.

The fireworks closed a colorful ceremony at Elmer Bankus Field witnessed by a standing-room-only crowd.

There were speakers and songs. The teacher of the year was announced Greg Jones. Teacher Ted Burdett spoke. What an awesome group. I love them so much, he said.

He urged the graduates to soar like eagles, and not to assume the self-serving role of the oyster. You are not oysters, you are eagles, he said. Man, I am proud of you, he told the class.

His address included the class accomplishments.

The students with the top academic records were recognized the four valedictorians, the 11 students who had the best academic records; the four Oregon scholars.

All with perfect, 4.0 or straight A grade point averages or better, the valedictorians were Leif Appanaitis, Jacki Marks, Erika Mendenhall and Shannon Mello.

The Oregon scholars, who were chosen on the basis of their grades and performance on either the SAT or ACT test, were Appanaitis, Mello, Mendenhall and Randy McClelland-Bane.

All of the students were among the top 11 students identified by Dr. Paul Prevenas, district superintendent. Others honored as part of the top students: Sarah Ames, Jade Taylor, Jana Allred Hunter, Shiloh Thom, Andrea Eide and Sheena McKay.

The valedictorians all gave short, two-minute speeches. Appanaitis used a funny voice to open and close his speech about humor, the people important to him, and the many challenges ahead. He urged the graduates to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. He then introduced Jacki Marks, who he described as his academic rival for the last 12 years.

She said the time is here when all of the decisions are yours a life-changing moment. But, she said, remember you are not alone, and she urged the graduates to remember your dreams. And she asked the class to remember the love our class shares.

Shannon Mello told of being devastated to learn that she would not be eligible to be a valedictorian because of not taking advanced placement courses. But, the decision was reversed by the school board at the recommendation of the principal, Floyd Strandberg. She said the members of the class should stand up for what they believe is right. In closing, she expressed her gratitude. And I love all of you, especially mom and dad.

Mendenhall told about her circle of friends in the sixth grade and how important they were to her. She noted how her life evolved in school. Now they have reached the point where they no longer have to ask permission to go to the bathroom. As one grows older, life gets more complicated. What you think does matter, she said.

The main address was given by Kurt Marsh, a former professional football player who lost his right foot and part of his leg because of a football injury. He played for the Raiders for seven years.

His speech was to motivate the graduates to realize their potential. He told how difficult it was to leave his son, Jake, in kindergarten. Today, Jake is 17, stands 6-4, weighs 295 pounds, and wears a size 17 shoe. It was hard to let him go, he said.

He told the graduates, You can decide what the rest of your life will be. It is possible to start over and not be thwarted by any walls the graduate has erected around himself, he said.

Only a small part of his address was devoted to the loss of his foot and part of his leg. He told about his sleepless night before the operation, and the phantom pain after it had been performed.

But, he said, there is always someone who has greater problems. When he was feeling sorry for himself, he was rolled to the childrens ward where he saw a little boy who had been horribly burned. With no lips and face, and stubs for arms, he was trying to talk on the telephone.

The big moment in the ceremony then came with the presentation of the diplomas to the 109 graduates by the school board. McKay and Mike Bodman read the names of the graduates.

Then came the fireworks.

Happy with the commencement was Dr. Floyd Strandberg. This was his first year at the high school as principal. He was responsible for repositioning the graduates seating so they directly faced the stands. Before, the rostrum and platform were between the graduates and the crowd, obstructing the view.

Dr. Strandberg welcomed the crowd to the graduation, and recognized the parents of the graduates, and their contribution to what the graduates had accomplished.

The Class of 2000 includes:

Joshua Michael Addison

Jana Jackomina Allred (Hunter) (h*)

Jeremy Ray Alto

Sarah Christine Ames (h*)

Leif Anders Appanaitis (h*)

Mary Jean Ball (h*)

Jennifer Ann Bays

Jayme Felix Berkowitz

Shannon Ione Berry

Stephanie Malia Bobian

Michael Vincent Bodman (h*)

Ryan Matthew Boren

Jonathan Lee Burch

Eve Rose Marie Campbell

Heather Marie Cavaness (h*)

Keshia Eileen Cervantes

Erich Bruce Chambers

Jill Noelle Chambers

Tabitha Marie Conte

Erin Leslie Cummins

Muriel Daenzer (+)

Renae Elizabeth De Liz (h)

Amanda Laurell Donahue (h)

Joshua David Dougherty

Selisha LeiAnna Early

Andrea Christine Eide (h)

Eric Michael Enright

Jasper Kenneth Evanow

Noah Eugene Evans

Elisha Hannah Noelle Exton

Juliann June Fairchild

Fatima Fiandeiro (+)

Timothy James Forbes

Diego Galagovsky (+)

Daniel Benjamin Gardner

Jerrid Joseph Gehrig

Shannon Marie George

Kelsie Olivia Geraghty (h*)

James Charles Gerlach

Mark Paullus Gleason

Michelle Anne Graziano

Kyle Dixon Hall

Katy Rose Harding

Jared Christopher Hargrove

Derek Ray Haskins

Esteban Sacramento Hernandez

Martin Denny Hernandez

Jacob Scott Herring

Michael David Hon

Stefani Anne Hooper

Justin Loren Hoyt

Lacey Ann Humphrey

Caroline Calvert Huxtable (h*)

Shannon Alyse Johnson

Dameon J Knapp

Joseph Richard Knapp (h*)

Aleasha Dawn Kockritz

Nicole Jovan Krussow

Jessica Jo Landers

Michael Cameron Lynn (h)

Jacki Marks (h*)

Seantel Rena Mazzettia

Randall T. McClelland-Bane (h*)

Sheena Marie McKay (h*)

Krista Susan McVay (h*)

Shannon Jean Mello (h*)

Erika Jeanne Mendenhall (h*)

Johnathan Michael Miller (h)

Jessica Jean Moffit (h*)

Melissa Teresa Norberto

Justin Allen Oman

Jennifer Marie Osborne

Matthew David Overlin

Amy Nicole Page

Lusilda Paniagua

Holly Ruth Peddicord

Cindi Rae Peterson (h*)

Erin Alynn Pulley (h)

Mark Lauren Ramsdell, Jr.

Megan Elizabeth Richards

Jennifer Christina Richardson

Emily Louise Rolfe

Michael Levi Rolfe

Adam Shawn Rosenberg

Raymond Joseph Ross

Joy Carin Rufener

Monica Marie Salzburg (h*)

Jason Raymond Savedra

Frances Nicole Schroeder

Jeremy Brian Davis Scott

Cody Vernon Seal

Charity Marie Showers

Brie Star Smith-Sypolt *

Kristina Cherie Smith

Lisa-Marie Steele

Colby William Sone

Jacob Edward Stovall

Paul Michael Swigert

Jade Mary Taylor (h*)

Matthew Aron Taylor

Shiloh Sheree Thom (h*)

Craig Marcel Van Hoesen

James Frederich Vandermeer (h)

Jason Joe Villarreal

Lawrence Keith Wallin III

Christina Mae Wenbourne

Adam Logan Wiesenborn

Clayton Thomas Wraith (h*)

Jose Roberto Zamora


h - Receiving honors diploma

* - National Honor Society members

+ - Foreign exchange students