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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Purdy High School 2012 class steps into future

Monday, May 14, 2012

Purdy High School graduates tossed their hats at the close of graduation ceremonies on Saturday. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The 41 graduates in the Purdy High School Class of 2012 heard reflections on their years together and lessons for life from guest speaker Carl Wethington during commencement exercises on Saturday.

Following the entrance to music played by the Purdy band, directed by James Adams, class member Quinlan O'Hagan read a poem about the "dents and dings" incurred over a dozen years of schooling together. Cristobal Ibarra set the tone for the ceremony, stating the day offered an opportunity to recognize the doors opening before the graduates.

Valedictorian Addy Roller and salutatorian Rachael Neill gave their speech together. Roller began by reflecting on memorable moments, like the Friday dances in middle school or the time science teacher Carl Wethington "blew a hole in the ceiling tiles."

Roller recalled teacher Carl Geyer admonishing the students to "take showers" and keep the cologne and perfume to a minimum. Geyer, who died during the school year, was remembered for warning students of difficulties ahead yet having time to talk and joke to help students get through the day.

"The countless memories of our teachers are accompanied by memories of each other," Neill said.

Roller said her pastor, John Duncan, stressed looking at the big picture "instead of dwelling on the areas that area part of our lives for only a short time." Roller encouraged her classmates to make sure they took God's will into account.

"Neither the family we are placed in nor the area we grow up in are choices that we can make," Neill said. "We were all placed here for a reason."

High school provided opportunities to leave impressions on others, Roller said. Having explored new interests in school, the graduates now had the duty to be positive members of society. Guest speaker Carl Wethington taught science in Purdy for 10 years before taking a similar position in Mt. Vernon. Superintendent Jerry Lingo said being asked to speak to the class after an absence of four years was a high compliment.

A collector of neckties, Wethington had the graduates sign his white tie before the ceremony. He planned to keep it as a memento, and brought a paper bag for each graduate containing seven items that carried a message.

An ABC flashcard offered a reminder that learning will continue daily. Science and life have the same definition, he said, which is "the collection and use of information to solve problems."

A toothbrush and toothpaste serve as reminders to take care of one's health.

A picture frame was meant to be filled with a photo of family to recall "your success is a reflection of them," Wethington said. He included a card stating, "God has a plan and purpose for you" as a constant reminder, even if life takes unexpected turns. A gold dollar serves as a reminder that money doesn't buy happiness, and one should not spend time seeking money while ignoring important things.

Wethington provided a crayon, observing all the crayons are different, beautiful in their own way, and all come from the same box. He said it takes all kinds of people to make the world, and the graduates need to learn to work together.

As a final item, Wethington included a candle to serve as a reminder that someone is always watching.

"You want your life to be like the light from a candle," he said. "You don't want them to be ashamed of you. You want to be like the candle, to remove shadows from their lives and fight monsters. Your reputations and actions are like candles on a windy night. They are easily lost."

Principal Bob Vice read the names of the graduates as each came forward to accept a diploma from Randy Henderson, school board president, or one of the other board members. Once presentations had concluded, Vice asked the graduates to face the audience and turn the tassels on their mortar board hats.

Eleven senior girls from the choir sang a song about graduation, "I'm Not Going To Cry," under the direction of Lauren Lee. A slide show about the past year assembled by classmates Amber James and Tara Jones concluded the program. The seniors processed out of the gym as the band played, then returned to toss their hats in the air and douse each other with Silly String before greeting friends and family.

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