PEACH VALLEY — Holding on to their hats, the 107 seniors of Coal Ridge High School’s Class of 2014 listened to advice and encouragement during the commencement ceremony held on a windy Saturday afternoon.
Susan Birdsey, superintendent of the Re-2 school district, gave five pieces of advice to the graduates that she promised would work well if they practiced them regularly.
The list included to treat others as you would like to be treated, be kind, work hard, show gratitude for at least three things at the end of each day, and tell your family and friends that you love them.
“Look up in those bleachers and remember that without them, you wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Birdsey said.
Teacher Ben Kirk gave the commencement address, choosing to answer questions that students had asked of him.
Most of the questions focused on wanting to know what college would be like and about life after high school in general.
“My advice is to stay focused,” Kirk said. “Have fun and enjoy your life, but stay focused.”
He also advised not to miss college classes because a) you pay for them and b) missing one class was like missing an entire week of high school.
Is college really as hard as people say? “Yes,” Kirk said.
“Think of the hardest high school class you’ve taken and give it a shot of steroids,” he advised.
How would they know what they should do with their lives?
“Don’t base it on money,” he said. “Choose something to do that makes you happy.”
He declined to answer the question about whether a person would be a professional beer pong player.
Special recognitions were made for those who achieved a 3.5 or higher grade point average and for those who earned academic letters and Silver Titans, as well as military services.
Jenifer Garcia Esquevel was named the salutatorian and Sarah Ashley King was valedictorian.
“Sarah is hard-working, respectful, a role model and kind,” principal Rick Elertson said in introducing King, who is a member of the National Honor Society.
In her speech, King joked about not liking school early on and wanting to be an elementary school drop out. She likened the first day as a freshman in high school to going to boot camp. But through their school years, she said the class had stuck together and supported each other.
“Over 12 years ago, we started out on a journey,” King said. “We supported each other in what we’re receiving today — our high school diplomas. And I see us becoming future doctors, fashion designers, nurses, graphic designers and maybe even a politician or two.”
At the end of the hour-long ceremony, the grads turned the tassels on their hats and tossed them into the air.
It was what the wind had been trying to do all day.