Sharp caps and pressed gowns was the weekend style as high schools across the Flathead Valley held graduation ceremonies.
In all there were five graduation ceremonies on Friday and Saturday, starting with Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell on Friday evening. The bulk of the ceremonies occurred during the day Saturday at Bigfork, Whitefish, Glacier and Flathead high schools. The largest of the ceremonies was at Flathead in Kalispell with 302 students making up the Class of 2011.
Festivities started shortly after 3 p.m. when graduating seniors Emily Stoick and Hannah Wilson introduced the class and remembered how far they had come from their “awkward 15-year-old selves.”
“It’s truly been an adventure none of us will forget,” Wilson said. “For a lot of us this is the end of an era.”
Next came the first of two performances by Flathead’s Choral Aires group, singing “The Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson.
The keynote address was presented by Madeline Bjork, who was voted to possess the best school spirit and will be attending Flathead Valley Community College come fall. Bjork talked of how far their class had come and how far they’ll go in the future.
“Our class may not have won everything and we may not have done it the way our teachers, parents and certainly not administration wanted, but we made it and we made it together as a family,” she said.
Following a song written and performed by Ashley Crevier, Principle Peter Fusaro approched the podium to announce to both the school board and audience that all 302 students present were certified to graduate. Shortly before 4 p.m. the graduating seniors began to stroll across the stage in the hot and humid gymnasium to receive their diplomas.
One of the students making the walk was Tierney Strandberg who will be attending Wells College in Aurora, New York to major in women’s studies. Strandberg received the Horsman Foundation Scholarship, which provides a full ride to any school of the recipient’s choice. Graduating from high school has meant mixed emotions for Strandberg, but she says she is ready for what’s next.
“I was worried for a while that I was going to be nervous,” she said. “This is going to be the last time I’ll be in a comfortable setting like this … But everything has fallen into line and I’m ready to move on.”
Once the students had received their diplomas, Stoick took to the podium one more time for the class send off and the conclusion of the ceremony.
“We have a lot to take pride in but we also have a long way to go,” she said.
With that, Stoick dismissed the Class of 2011 for the final time and joined them in throwing their caps into air, amongst thunderous applause from friends and family.
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