Last Friday evening Gold Beach Union High School’s Colvin Court was filled to near capacity as the town paid tribute to the Panther Class of 2019.
Green, gold, and black balloons framed the stage as black-robed young men locked arms with green-clad young women holding roses. With mortars firmly in place, the pairs then marched together towards the podium area.
They were there to celebrate, for sure, but also to pause for a few seconds. To briefly look back at their high school years and to the families that brought them to the space they occupied.
A slide show highlighted the 2019 GBHS senior class from infants up to present day. A treasure trove of images flashed on screens drawing wide grins and laughter from family, friends, and the teachers who came to wish these soon-to-be graduates well as they prepared to turn the page on this most important chapter of their lives.
After the prelude “Rogue River Venture” came the time-honored standard “Pomp and Circumstance,” both performed by the GBHS Band.
Myah McDonald, 2019 class president, led the flag salute followed by a return by the band with “America the Beautiful.”
Next up the guest speaker for the evening, retiring teacher, Gretchen Anthony.
Anthony received a thunderous welcome from the assembled for her many decades of service to the school. In her remarks, she lauded the graduates saying she was “proud of the individuals you have been.”
Then, the departing math instructor recited a poem, “The Man in the Glass.” The message? One may be able to fool the world but the one person you can’t... is that person looking back at you in the mirror. She encouraged them as they go through their lives “to make absolutely sure to square things with that person each and every day.”
The salutatorian awards were presented by Principal Joshua Metzger to Josiah Armstrong and Devin Wolford who shared an identical 4.09 grade point average.
The two shared the podium and thanked parents, teachers and others who impacted their lives. When addressing his classmates, Wolford had a musical message ready. “Here’s what I want to say to you.”
Over the loudspeakers came recording artist Rick Astley’s “Never Going To Give You Up,” eliciting hoots and hollers.
Metzger announced the GBHS Class of 2019 valedictorian Madison Buffington.
Buffington earned the number one spot with a GPA of 4.13 and in her address, like Armstrong and Wolford prior thanked “so many of you who helped me to be my best self.”
Madison became temporarily overcome with emotion when thanking “my Nanna,” her grandmother who had died prior to being able to see Buffington graduate but for whom she says she “could feel in that moment.” Buffington finished by “giving the Glory to God” and congratulated her fellow classmates.
Next scholarship awards in the amount of $143,525 were presented. In alphabetical order they are: Josiah Armstrong $3,900, Madison Buffington $103,650, Eli Halcumb $14,700, Sam Jennings $1,000, Jonathon Moore $700, Kaitlyn Porovich $700, Evan Reince-Seibert 100% tuition paid UO, Briana Seuser-Smith $1,225, Kate Thorp $2,500, and Devin Wolford $15,150.
Scott McNair, chair of the CCSSD Board of Directors, then presented the GBHS Class of 2019 their diplomas who after receiving them, happily sent their mortars sailing… embarking on new lives.