Despite some last-minute weather obstacles, Dolores High School’s 100th graduating class celebrated commencement at a Saturday morning ceremony.
Graduation was scheduled for the high school’s main gym but was moved to the football field after flooding destroyed the gym floor. Heavy rain earlier in the week, however, made the field too wet for the ceremony and thwarted those plans too, causing the district to relocate to the auxiliary gym.
But the changing plans didn’t diminish attendance, and the auxiliary gym was packed, as family and friends filled bleachers and seats to cheer on their graduates.
“You are prepared,” said high school Principal Jenifer Hufman in the ceremony’s opening speech, right after graduating senior Cael McHenry played the National Anthem on the cello. “Your parents and family, this community and these faculty have given you every tool that you will need to find your greatest happiness.”
The fact that this was the 100th graduating class was highlighted throughout the ceremony. Alice Lynton Cole was celebrated as the school’s first graduate in 1919, in presentations along the side wall and in a slideshow after Hufman’s speech.
Valedictorian Tatum Majors referenced her own roots in Dolores, and traced some of the technological advancements and notable moments of the past century, along with the qualities that have remained constant through time.
“Never forget the history that we, along with 99 other classes that Dolores High School have made,” she said. “Each student that was graduated from here in a period of 100 years has been a part of a rich history that will never be forgotten. Class of 2019, we are a part of a century-long legacy that will not only last in the town of Dolores, but in each of our hearts forever.”
Salutatorian Cameron Schafer joked that some of her classmates believed the last-minute logistical turns to were caused by the “curse of the 100-year class,” then reflected on the “bittersweet” moment that is graduation.
“High school is like a lollipop,” she said. “It is sweet on the outside, takes forever to get there, it sucks until the end, but overall you’re going to miss it when it’s gone.”
The third student speaker, class president Lyndroth Belt, also drew a youthful analogy. She recalled as a child playing the “lava game,” which involves not touching the floor or risk being burned by “hot lava.”
“Today is the day that we step off of our couch,” she said. “Don’t worry, it won’t burn, though it will sting a little, but only enough to callous our feet and prepare us for the next thing.”
Students selected science teacher Peter Swingle as their keynote speaker. He told students to take risks and embrace vulnerability, then took a theatrical approach to his speech, encouraging students “to thine own self be true,” in the words of Polonius from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
In a dramatic moment, he stepped to the center of the stage, and “set the scene.”
“A class of stellar classmates is about to commence next act of their lives,” he said.
In his send-off words to the class of 2019, retiring Superintendent Phil Kasper thanked students for the “honor of graduating” together. He directed them to focus on retaining important values like kindness and listening, along with the importance of just showing up.
“Learn the power of silence,” Kasper said. “Learn that by speaking last, your voice will always be heard. Learn that in building relationships there is no substitute for your time or your attention. Appreciate the infinity of love and remember that there is no limit to love’s power.”