Tonasket High School produces 67 new graduates

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Jessie Hedlund (right) and Jessie Attwood greet friends and family after the ceremony at Tonasket High School.

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Photo by Terry Mills

Jessie Hedlund (right) and Jessie Attwood greet friends and family after the ceremony at Tonasket High School.

TONASKET – Saturday marked a major milestone in the lives of 67 young adults.

On June 7, 2008, those 67 went from high school students to high school graduates in a two-hour ceremony in the Tonasket High School gym.

“I’m proud of them,” said high school principal Jeff Hardesty. “But that’s only a fraction of the pride the community has felt in watching your children grow up and graduate.”

Valedictorian Janine Welton urged her former classmates “to learn from the wrongs of society and contribute to making them right.”

This day was not the end of her hopes for her peers, Welton said. “Graduation is a milestone, but it’s not the limit to our potential.”

Salutatorian Josh Brazil told a story.

“When I was a kid I’d be driving at my grandpa’s farm and he’s telling me to slow down, that ‘You have to think up here, you’re not in school anymore,'” Brazil said. “That didn’t make any sense to me. I have to think in school. It hasn’t been until the last couple of years that I figured it out. There’s more than one kind of thinking,” Brazil said.

He also reminisced on high school memories, from sixth grade camp to the county fair.

Farewell speaker James Swanson used his 34 years of life experience to relate a lesson.

“My parents and others see me and think I’m just a young pup,” he said. “My students think I’m old. It’s all about perception. Perception is not absolute. It can be molded.”

Swanson asked his senior students to fill out questionnaires including their hopes and goals for the future. One student hopes to see Snickers become the national candy bar. Another wanted to eliminate prejudice. Zach Clarkson hoped to see college education become free for all and Welton hoped for world enlightenment.

“Don’t settle for mediocre,” Swanson said. “Make something of your life.”

He also advised all the students to read “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, written by a college professor diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“Look at the positives,” he said. “Refuse to give in to the negative perception you’ll be bombarded with.”

Sean Timmerman and Amanda Bradburn learned to play the electric guitar as a senior project and played a Smashing Pumpkins song with juniors Keegan McCormick singing and Josh Newton playing drums.

Superintendent Randy Hauff presented the 67 graduates. School board members Terry Nixon and Jerry Asmussen awarded the diplomas.

The class motto was “We laughed until we had to cry, we loved right down to our last goodbye, but over the years, we’ll smile and recall, just for one moment … We had it all.”

The class colors were royal blue and white.

The graduation ceremony also included recognition of scholarships, presented by various community members representing different organizations.

A total of nearly $511,000 was awarded to Tonasket graduates Saturday night.

One set of scholarships was new to the celebration.

Tucker Freeman presented three scholarships totaling $2,000 as part of the Brady and Boone Freeman Inspirational Scholarship. The fund drive was started after Brady’s death in April. Brady and Boone Freeman were co-valedictorian’s at THS in 2005.