Local schools start to say 'bye

64 seniors graduate this weekend

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Local schools plan to hand out some 64 well-earned diplomas this weekend when Soroco High School, The Lowell Whiteman School and Christian Heritage School hold their annual commencement exercises.

Soroco High School expects to grant 25 diplomas to its 2003 graduating class, the first since Principal James Chamberlin took the reigns as school leader last year.

"They've been a great class to work with," Chamberlin said. "A lot of them have real good plans as to what they're doing next."

Soroco's ceremony is at 4 p.m. today in the school's new Robert M. Johnson Gymnasium, where motivational speaker Chris Bowers will address the graduates. The school's two valedictorians and its salutatorian also will speak.

In a new twist to the ceremony, all South Routt School District teachers and staff, including elementary school teachers, will form a congratulatory line for the seniors. The addition will give graduating seniors a chance to reunite and bid farewell to the teachers and staff who helped them throughout their academic careers.

The senior class will leave the gymnasium in procession following the ceremony.

Chamberlin said he hopes the 2003 seniors will take with them a sense of belonging with their classmates and their community.

"They always have an open door and a home to come back to at Soroco High School," Chamberlin said. "I'm proud of this year's class."

The Lowell Whiteman School will send off its class of 32 students with commencement exercises beginning at 10 a.m. this morning in the school's Dariel Henderson Gymnasium.

A faculty member will give a vignette highlighting each graduate, Head of School Walt Daub said. Seniors Peter Mayfield and Kyle Ewing also will speak at the ceremony.

A variety of awards will be announced, including a student-athlete award, a head of school award and the naming of the school's ranking scholar. For the first time in school history, an award for teaching will be bestowed upon a faculty member.

A luncheon ceremony will immediately follow commencement, and a special dedication of a bronze sculpture in memory of Lowell Whiteman will take place in the Lowell Whiteman Memorial Garden. Graduation ceremonies are filled with mixed emotions, Daub said.

"It's bittersweet because we're really going to miss these kids, but we're eager to see them move on to the next stage of their lives and watch them succeed," Daub said.

Daub said he hopes students take with them three things: the courage to build a meaningful life and the perseverance and self-confidence to follow their dreams.

Seven seniors are scheduled to walk away with high school diplomas from Christian Heritage School on Sunday.

The ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. in the school's auditorium, will feature keynote speaker Jeremiah Kiely, a 2000 Christian Heritage School graduate. Valedictorian Laura Heiner and salutatorian Casey Hays also will address the crowd.

School officials will present awards to the seniors.

"You have to admire a class where if you graduate with a 3.9 (grade-point average), you're fifth in your class," teacher Brian Houston said

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