Speakers recognize class accomplishments, camaraderie
With 13 years of schooling completed, the class of 2011 graduated during the 30th commencement, held May 26 in the People's Church Sanctuary. After everyone had received their diplomas, Associated Student Body President Justin Wilson led the group in turning their tassels and throwing their caps in the air.
52 tassels turned, and the robed students in the class of 2011 became high school graduates.
In conclusion of four years in high school -- thirteen years of school altogether -- the 30th commencement honored the class of 2011 in the Peoples Church sanctuary, May 26.
"These kids are very eclectic," Principal Todd Bennett said. "There's a wide range of ability, there's a wide range of talent and there's a wide range of challenges that each of them have faced. But they're determined. Everybody on that stage tonight achieved, reached the goal and earned their diploma. That's one thing that's unique about them: the perseverance of this group."
After music provided by the jazz band and a piano selection by graduate Danny Ibarra, the class members walked into the sanctuary, two by two, to take their places on stage for the ceremony. After Superintendent Debbie Siebert and Vice Chairman of the FC School Board Mike Bruton addressed the audience, it was time for the valedictorian and salutatorian speeches.
The three speeches -- by salutatorian Ashley Ward, co-valedictorian Richard Lopez and co-valedictorian Austin Ward -- together constructed a reflection of the past, present and future, respectively.
Bennett then presented various awards, and City Councilman Larry Westerlund provided the graduation address. Once more scholarships and recognitions were distributed, each graduate made their final walk across the stage to receive their diploma. The choral and instrumental music departments performed "O Great God," then Associated Student Body President Justin Wilson took the podium to lead his classmates in turning their tassels.
For Lula Hart, grandmother of Kelsey Hart, the graduation was a rewarding event after watching her granddaughter work through high school.
"It is absolutely amazing, I'm speechless," Hart said. "It's been a lot of work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but I'm so happy to see her complete it [high school]; she worked really hard."
Considering the event's significance, Bennett was glad to see the graduation run smoothly.
"I thought it [the ceremony] was great," Bennett said. "I was really, really pleased that the kids onstage showed a lot of class. The speeches were excellent and the audience showed a lot of class and reverence for the students and their achievement. I thought that the whole program this evening was fantastic."
"We've got a few people going into ministry, but we've got a lot of people going to great colleges and I really think that this class is going to put a stamp on wherever they go. I mean, we have a great class -- really smart and really spiritual." --Associated Student Body President Justin Wilson, '11
As an underclassman, junior Kendall Wheeler was able to watch her peers and friends graduate after spending time with them over the years.
"I've gotten to know a lot of seniors this year and it was really nice getting to know them and watch them graduate," Wheeler said. "It's special because a lot of them are my friends."
Throughout the night, a common trait attributed to the class was their support for each other and camaraderie. Through his time with the graduating class, Bible teacher Robert Foshee observed affinity within the group.
"What I liked about this class is that no matter where you were in that group, they all cheered for each other and support each other," Foshee said. "They might not have hung out all the time together, but they all love each other, and you see that wherever they went -- on the senior retreat and the trip -- they all support each other, and that's really cool."
For Wheeler, watching the graduation was not only a celebration for the class of '11, but a chance to consider the future for herself after completing her junior year.
"It [knowing that she will graduate next year] feels weird," Wheeler said. "Now we're seniors and we're going to graduate, then it's going to be us. It just feels weird. I'm excited because it seems interesting; we see all of these people [graduate], and I want to be there and do the same thing."
Like every year, graduation featured a number of musical performances ranging from the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance" to selections from various graduating seniors. Here, seniors perform "O Great God," along with the high school choral and band department.
In contrast to Wheeler, '09 alumnus Stephen Prince watched the graduation in retrospect.
"It [graduation] was fun because I just get to be on the other side of it and I get to see how everything works from the perspective of the parents, friends and family," Prince said. "I thought it was pretty fun to hear all of the great things that have gone on in this class and great things to come for all of them."
Reflecting on the range of talents and abilities in his class, Wilson has high hopes for his fellow graduates.
"We've got a few people going into ministry, but we've got a lot of people going to great colleges and I really think that this class is going to put a stamp on wherever they go," Wilson said. "I mean, we have a great class -- really smart and really spiritual. An all-around-good class."
With the graduation and a high school education complete, Wilson appreciates the experience and looks on the event in a positive light.
"I thought that graduation was great this year," Wilson said. "I thought that everybody was really nervous at first, but we got on the stage and started talking and the nerves kind of went away. We knew that this is a night to be happy and to be glad and not to be nervous. We knew to let God take care of everything."
For more articles about the class of 2011, read the May 24 article, Senior recognition banquet honors CSF lifetime members.
Nick Avery and Danielle St. Marie also contributed to this article.