PHS, RLHS students receive diplomas [with gallery]

Published 12:11 am Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seniors at Pleasant Home and Red Level walked across the stage and into the future Friday night, diplomas in hand.

Pleasant Home Salutatorian Hunter Ward amused the crowd by joking that he wasn’t good at speeches and acting as if he was walking off the stage.

“On a serious note, thank you everyone for coming,” Ward said. “Thank you parents, friends and faculty and anyone else that didn’t have anything better to do with their time. Tonight is a very special night indeed. It’s a time to laugh, time to remember and it’s our once last time to all be together.

“After tonight, we take our first steps into the unknown, but you know what, I think we the students are ready to do that,” he said. “Our teachers have spent 13 years preparing us for what lies ahead. We have had a lot of people teaching us. It wasn’t always the teachers that gave us our lessons some of them came from our classmates.

“Kennedy Cleghorn taught us one of the most important lessons,” he said of the PHS grad who overcame cancer. “No matter what’s going on in your life, no matter how bad it is, never give up and keep fighting.”

Valedictorian Garrett Barton followed with his valedictory address.

“This day has been in our minds since we started kindergarten,” Barton said. “We didn’t realize how quickly it would come. Each and every day we knew it was getting closer and closer. The teachers and faculty at Pleasant Home have sculpted us in even the most minuscule ways so that we can be successful in every challenge that life throws at us. We can never thank you enough. We also thank our parents for being there all the times we failed and pushing us to be the best that we can be. Though high school comes to and end the great friendships and memories that we made here will not.”

Valedictorian Linsey Smithart expressed her appreciation.

“Thank you to all my teachers for teaching me and putting up with many questions that I always seemed to have,” Smithart said. “Tonight, the Class of 2017 is standing on the threshold of what you can call a new year, or better yet, a new adventure. You may feel a little happy about turning back and looking in the past and all the memories that Pleasant Home has given us. However, progress comes from looking forward not back.

“This is a happy night for all of us because of the excitement of something new ahead,” Smithart said. “I believe that wherever we go or what ever we do, each and every one of us will make a positive impact on our society.”

At Red Level, Salutatorian Paige Schreiner said she and her classmates are crossing the finish line in one race and starting the other.

Schreiner said she considered all the things that were important while writing her speech.

She said that books and reading have always been an important part of her life. She said that one book taught and shaped her more than anything: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

“Looking back through the years, I’ve realized that our journey through school is a lot like the journey,” she said.

She said she and her classmates started off in their own eggs at home, but grew in school and ate up more knowledge.

“ABCs became words,” she said. “Words became sentences. Sentences became paragraphs. And one day if we were lucky and worked hard enough, paragraphs became speeches.”

She said they had experience and that the fruit showed them who they were.

Valedictorian Meredith Nall said that classmates have come a long way – sharing memories together, including meals.

“In those halls, we have crawled together, walked together, tripped together, fallen together and risen together,” she said.

She said no matter where they go, they will always be a part of each other.

“Our memories will always keep us bound as the class of 2017,” she said.

She shared many memories and encouraged her classmates to remember the bonds they shared.