MHHS class of 2008 heads into real world
As Hannah Zamora made her way from the junior high school's gym to her seat with the Mountain Home High School class of 2008 in the middle of Tiger Field, she waved and blew kisses to several of her friends lined up against the track's fence.
Further up in the stands were 29 friends and family members screaming her name.
Her grandparents had driven in from Pocatello. Her aunts, uncles and cousins drove from Salt Lake City, Green River, Wyo., and other places to watch her graduate Friday, March 30.
"It's family, this is what you do for family," her mother, Penny Zamora, said of her relatives traveling to her daughter's graduation.
"This is one of the most important accomplishments of your life," Justin Lee, an uncle from Salt Lake City said.
"A lot of people don't make it this far," Penny said.
Senior class president Katie Price opened the ceremony by welcoming the 210 graduates who made it that far, to graduation.
Price praised her classmates for their school spirt and thanked her teachers and family members for their support before ending with a Dr. Seuss quote.
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the only guy who'll decide where to go."
Principal Jeff Johnson called the 2008 class a "special class," and pointed to the class's increased test scores, decreased discipline referrals, increase in school spirit and participation and work with the underclassmen to let them know what it takes to be a Mountain Home Tiger.
"At the high school, we talk about leaving a legacy and raising the bar for future classes to live up to, and I stand before you today to thank the class of '08 for getting the job done," Johnson said.
Johnson thanked the faculty of Mountain Home High School for their tireless dedication to teaching and helping students achieve academic success.
"I seriously doubt that many of these students will be talking about their ISAT scores at their 10-year reunion, but the relationships and memories you have made with these students will stay with them for the rest of their lives," he told the high school's teachers.
Johnson recognized all the educators in attendance because, "in our district, we believe that all of our staff throughout the district teach seniors."
He then thanked the district level administration before giving graduates the chance to stand and recognize their family and friends in the audience.
Johnson said the class earned over $440,000 in scholarships, including more than $65,000 awarded from local scholarships. He then recognized the 43 honor students of the class.
Co-valedictorians Chris Rau, Cynthia Scholte and Amber Wright earned the right to address their classmates by maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout high school.
"I come here not to mourn graduation, but to praise it," Rau said. "We have come to the beginning of our lives. Today you will step out into the real world.
"Experience is the best way to gain wisdom in the world and we are about to begin our real life experiences," he said.
He said the class would accomplish many great things in the future and he was proud to say he is a part of that.
Scholte offered more thanks to the friends and family members in attendance.
She resisted thanking the "dozens upon dozens of people" who had helped her succeed because, "I truly believe that some of my peers will die from anticipation of accepting their diplomas and high-tailing it out of here."
She said while math, reading English and science were important subjects, they only accounted for half of a student's eduction. She credited the skills of tolerance, acceptance, respect and unity that came from passing each other in the halls, standing in the lunch line, conversations held with acquaintances and sitting in the classroom during a teacher's lecture as skills that will allow many people to succeed in the world.
Scholte told her classmates the transition from high school to adulthood was the class's next challenge and told them to "take it, embrace it and set your goal to succeed in whatever it is you plan on doing."
Wright credited her achievement as a valedictorian not to being a "braniac" but by "working my butt off in high school and in everything I did outside of school."
She encouraged her fellow students to work hard for whatever comes next, to have faith in themselves and to "go for your dreams and remember that the sky is the limit."
She thanked her teachers and family members for their support before ending with an antidote from Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken."
She called the poem about having to decide which fork in the road to take symbolic for the class and said, "No matter what decisions we made or make, we should have no regrets in the end and just have fun with life."
At the conclusion of the student speeches, the high school a capella choir sang the Mountain Home High School Alma Mater then Johnson presented the school's newest alumni with their diplomas.
As the students made their way across stage, many greeted him with a handshake or hug, though a few students had a couple surprises for him.
One presented him with a shovel and another with a red bra.
After the ceremony, 148 of the students and their guests attended the senior celebration, an all-night drug- and alcohol-free event.
Tami Downen, co-chair of the event, said students took home more than $15,000 worth of prizes and praised the community for its support in providing the prizes, food and beverages for the evening.