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Cheers, warm words for RHS grads

Cheers, warm words for RHS grads

May 29, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

There have been tailgate parties, homecoming dances, football games and harsh sunburns after long track meets.

These are just a few memories senior Kayla Baldwin shared during Riverton High School's Class of 2012 commencement Sunday afternoon.

Baldwin, a valedictorian, wrapped up her speech by reciting a few lines of a song in the motion picture "Dirty Dancing."

"Now I've had the time of my life. No, I never felt like this before," she said. "Yes, I swear it's the truth, and I owe it all to you."

Family and friends packed the Wolverine den Sunday to honor the 138 graduating seniors. Despite dark clouds and cool temperatures outside, the crammed gymnasium had several attendees using their ceremony programs as a fan.

Dressed in maroon and black gowns with mortarboards, a few of the decorated, the class marched into the gymnasium and was met with congratulatory cheers, bright camera flashes, clapping and a few blasts from air horns.

"It is a day that is important, and you should treat it with importance," Carl Manning, chairman of the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Education, said during welcoming remarks. "We're proud of you and your accomplishments."

Manning, who has been a school trustee almost continuously since 1990, noted that his grandmother graduated from RHS in 1915, followed by his mother in 1936, himself in 1967, and his daughters in 2002 and 2005.

"It's a thing parents, friends and family come watch you cross over to your next segment of life," he said.

RHS principal Joanne Andre-Flanagan introduced this year's six valedictorians -- Baldwin, Macey Fegler, Samuel Myers, Thomas Pointon, Kaylie Randall and Zachary Zenk.

She said the group is comprised of students who maintained 4.0 grade-point average during their high school tenures, participated in extracurricular activities and have been school leaders.

"Their future is bright and in their hands, so are we," Andre-Flanagan said.

The valedictorians each had a few minutes to speak to their classmates.

Fegler talked about individuality and how seniors are taught to be themselves and reach for their own goals. Humorously, she noted how graduates were wearing the same attire for the ceremony.

Joking aside, Fegler said the class achieved the milestone together, whether it was sharing notes with those who missed class or studying together for a big test.

"After today, go be individuals, but remember it's all of these people sitting next to you who helped you along the way," she said.

Myers recalled his parents, teachers and others who have helped him achieve a diploma.

"In the last four years I haven't figured out who I am, but I have figured out who I want to be," he said.

Varsity girls basketball coach and retired RHS English teacher Ron Porter gave the graduation address.

"This is a day of celebration," he said.

He said the graduates set and achieved their goals, and while on the journey, they have been reminded of determinations and lived with tolerance and courage.

"I'm truly humbled to be invited here today, to share in your milestone," Porter said.

Following a standing ovation for Porter, Andre-Flanagan recognized the four foreign exchange students in this year's class.

Superintendent Terry Snyder, who is new this year, also shared a few words.

Snyder noted how life happens in the blink of an eye. Soon, he said, the seniors would be graduating from college. A career, family and later grandkids will follow.

"After that, things get pretty dark," he said jokingly.

"We've seen great successes this year," Snyder said. "A great year doesn't happen by accident. ... It's the leaders of the class."

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