Pierce City High School graduation is a time to remember

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
There were both laughter and tears on Sunday night as graduating seniors looked back at precious memories and gazed into the future during ceremonies held on Sunday evening in the Pierce City High School gymnasium. [Times Photo by Melonie Roberts]

It was an evening of laughter and tears as 53 graduates bid farewell to the hallowed halls of Pierce City High School on Sunday.

Coach Matthew Street was the class speaker for the event.

"As a class, your journey hasn't always been an easy one," Street said. "As I am sure you have heard a thousand times, 'anything worth doing is never easy.'

Classmates left a tribute of flowers near a portrait of their late classmate, Jenny Garner, who died unexpectedly on Jan. 28. Garner would have graduated this year.

"Along the way, you've been building character," Street continued. "One day, you'll look back on all of this hard work and be glad you did it."

Street recalled how he felt on the day of his high school graduation.

"Thinking back, I can remember how excited I was to start the next chapter of my life," Street said. "Over the next several years, you will have many opportunities and will be forced to make many important decisions. For some, it will be deciding which school to attend, others will be figuring out which job to apply for and some of you will be figuring out where you want to live and start your lives."

Street went on to share some of the lessons he hoped the new graduates would learn in the years to come.

"You must find your passion," he said. "There is no greatness in the world without a passion to be great. Whatever your aspiration in life, whether it's to be an athlete, artist, [or] a scientist... you must be passionate about it to be successful.

"The second lesson... is to always be yourself and maintain your integrity," continued Street. Always believe in yourself and never let others define who you are."

The last lesson Street shared was one he highlighted with a quote from Mark Twain.

"Dream big and never stop chasing your dreams" he said. "Mark Twain said 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.' In chasing your dreams, remember to take risks."

Salutatorian Mattie Parrigon thanked parents, teachers and coaches who pushed her and her peers along the path of education.

"When I came from St. Mary's as a freshman, I was so scared," Parrigon said. "I remember I made my sister make me a map of the school so I wouldn't get lost and tell me exactly what my teachers would be like.

"I knew no one," Parrigon continued. "I barely spoke my freshman year and now I'm speaking at graduation.

"Through four seasons of basketball, track, eight homecomings, three proms, snow days, ACT's, countless 'chicken patty Wednesdays' and a whole lot of assemblies, I am finally graduating with a little bit of knowledge and too many memories to count," she said. "There was a lot of growing up done in this school. Lessons learned - not just what 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was about or how to find the square root - but how to treat the people around you, what it means to be a best friend and what's truly important. I am very grateful for that."

Parrigon ended her speech by looking to the future.

"So I say - eat cupcakes," Parrigon said. "Smile 'til your cheeks hurt. Watch the sun rise. Tell someone you love them. Go on an adventure. Smell the roses. Be extraordinary."

Valedictorian Drew Boursheski then addressed graduates with some words of advice.

"When we're young, we're told that we can do anything with our lives," Boursheski said. "We're told to dream big, to think of becoming astronauts or the president or an astronaut president. Then when high school is over, we're told, 'That's it. It's over.'

"We're told to wake up, but this isn't the time to wake up and be a part of the real world," he said. "It's a time to keep dreaming; to push those dreams until they become our new reality."

Boursheski told graduates this is not the time to mourn high school but to celebrate the memories they share.

"There is a quote by Dr. Seuss that many of you may know," he continued. "'Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.'

"There is another quote that I feel fits our class, this one by Steve Jobs," Boursheski added. "'Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes.' Here's to the astronaut presidents and Dr. Seuss. And here's to our Pierce City High School. Congratulations, Class of 2012."

Graduates honored the late Jenny Garner with a tribute of flowers decorating either side of Garner's framed portrait set on the stage.

Superintendent Dr. Aaron Cornman then issued the class challenges.

"Always be positive," Cornman said. "Think success, not failure. Be aware of negative environments and steer clear of negative thinking experts. Always have a positive mental attitude.

"Decide upon your dreams and goals," Cornman continued. "Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to reach them. Make sure the goals are inspiring. Take action. Goals are nothing without action. Don't be afraid to get started."

He also challenged students to never stop learning, through reading books, training and taking classes.

"Be persistent and work hard," Cornman said. "Never lose your ambition and heart. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up."

"Congratulations and good luck in your future endeavors," he concluded.

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