Friends and family members gathered at Circle High School to celebrate the 2016 graduates on Sunday afternoon.
Friends and family members gathered at Circle High School to celebrate the 2016 graduates on Sunday afternoon. Principal Todd Dreifort extended a warm welcome to those attending and the Circle High School A Capella, directed by Leanne McKee performed "Feels Like Today."
In the 2016 class, 10 valedictorians were recognized: Jared Baughman, Jacob Deffenbaugh, Garrett Hyslop, Andie Nibarger, Leah Ragan, Kaitlyn Tosh, Lander Walker, Mark Walthers, Reagan Wilson and Marcus Ysidro.
Ragan was the first to speak. She spoke of fond memories, experiences and inside jokes before turning to take a selfie with her classmates at the podium.
"Not everything was easy and since our freshman year, we've been watching, studying and growing," she said. "Through every up and down, we have learned."
She also spoke of their experiences and hopes for the future.
"Throughout all four years, our friends were there," she went on. "Through embarrassment and triumph, through every failure and every success, we've come through. Through all our friendships and fights, we have prospered. Because of our wins and losses, we are good sports. With our fear and excitement, every day brought new challenges. These past four years we have been in the classroom, on the field, on the stage and on the court. We have practiced, prepared and perform what we know. We look forward to new places and new experiences. We will continue to grow and learn."
She also spoke of going out into the real world.
"These past four years have taught us a lot," she said. "Probably more than we'd like to admit, but today is the day we move on. We say thank you to what high school has brought to us and we welcome what our future has to offer. Whether we are off to college, heading into the military, entering the workforce or starting a family, we are all just beginning."
She even offered a piece of advice to the underclassmen.
"Even when you think the teachers are conspiring against you, they're not," Ragan explained. "They want to help you because believe it or not, they do not want to see you an extra year. Not everything is easy, so tough it out and don't focus on your mistakes."
Finally, she offered words of wisdom from Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
"Life is not a race, but often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I hope you find joy in your journey and as you cross the finish line, you don't forget to look back and smile."
Wilson also addressed the class, repeating the words of softball coach Jean Gibbs.
"He told us that he wanted our team to be under construction," she began. "We figured it was literally because our school was under construction. Little did we know, these two words would refer to our young team building a successful program."
She continued, shifting her focus to the current class of 2016, which had also been under construction.
"We began as separate parts placed in a classroom," she said. "We expected to be shaped, molded and built by our builders. For the next seven years, our different teachers, field trips and classes we took sculpted us into one strong class with a great bond."
She also spoke of the transition to middle school.
"It was no challenge at all," she went on. "We had a great class that got along well. New friendships formed and people began to know and like each other instantly."
As the construction continued, the students continued to be built up.
"High school prepared us for our futures and opened our adult minds," she said. "We gained confidence, stood up for what we believed in and learned from our mistakes. Senior year was when we became a perfect building. Now, it's over. We reached the day where we part ways. We wish our classmates the best and we accept the fact that we may never see some of these people again. Some things don't always have a happy ending, but graduation does."
Following a few other remarks by Dreifort, the class was presented and the students received their diplomas.