Oak Creek Twenty-three Soroco High School seniors attracted hundreds of well-wishers to the school gym Saturday, the day they’d say a final goodbye to the school’s hallways and classrooms.
The crowded venue was evidence of a theme of the Class of 2010’s commencement ceremony: that it takes the whole community to raise children and lead them to success. Soroco Principal Dennis Alt first touched on the idea, telling the South Routt residents and parents that their dedication paid off.
“Your children have represented you well,” Alt said.
Staff members congratulated the students who received scholarships, and district Superintendent Scott Mader congratulated valedictorian Matt Watwood and salutatorian Alex Estes, noting that graduate Nate Meadows was a close third.
“If you were running a mile race, these three would come within inches of each other,” Mader said.
Estes and Watwood spoke to their classmates and those in the audience, again thanking the South Routt community for supporting them through their educational journey.
Many of the Soroco graduates have been in the South Routt School District since kindergarten.
Estes, who is considering an academic and athletic scholarship offer to attend Adams State College, thanked profusely his family, friends and neighbors.
“I would like to thank anyone who has ever donated to a Soroco fundraiser or attended a Soroco sporting event to cheer us on,” he said. “Basically, that’s all of you.”
Watwood plans to attend the University of Denver on a full-ride Boettcher Foundation Scholarship. The valedictorian asked the faculty members sitting on the stage to move to the audience so he could speak to them, not away from them.
Watwood thanked the staff members and explained to his classmates that a diploma is just a piece of paper that represents how far they’ve come.
“The paper means nothing,” he said, shredding a mock diploma to pieces, “it’s all the memories you’ve made, the ideas you’ve had and the friends you remember.”
The magician spread the paper back open, whole, to the delight and laughter of the audience.
Of the graduates, counselor Lisa Omori said last week, 12 have enrolled in a four-year college or university, five will attend vocational school and six plan to enter the work force.
For their commencement speaker this year, members of the Soroco Class of 2010 chose English teacher and coach Sam McLeod, who is leaving the district after five years. He described the class as one that doesn’t do things the same way they’ve always been done.
For example, McLeod said the class led him on a scavenger hunt as a way of inviting him to be their speaker. He said senior Amber Larsen handed him a note a couple of months ago with a poem that led him to the gym. Another poem led him to a library book, and another led him back to his classroom. The entire senior class was waiting there to invite him to speak at graduation.
McLeod asked the class to never lose the passion of graduation day and their excitement for the future.
“The world doesn’t need cogs in machines,” he said. “The world needs dreamers.”
McLeod thanked the seniors for leading by example. He told them to go out and leave their fingerprints on the world, to touch people’s lives and to bring light wherever there is darkness.
The Class of 2010 left its mark on McLeod, he said.
“You’re irreplaceable,” McLeod told the graduates. “I want you to understand that above all other things.”
— To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org