After diplomas were presented to the 253 seniors, at 9:44 p.m., Rose Marie Monks, president of the Florence Unified School District’s Governing Board, gave the new graduates the green light to be the first PBHS class to flip the tassels on their mortarboards to a soundtrack of applause and fireworks.
Before that, there were plenty of speeches. After salutatorian Jessica Naranjo thanked her parents, friends, teachers and staff, “most importantly,” she added, “I want to thank Google and Wikipedia!
“Most of you may be expecting me to start with a quote from some old famous dead guy. I’m not going to do that,” Naranjo said moments before adding, “We were, and always will be, the first class of Poston Butte. We’ll be the first to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘Good morning world, I’m ready!’
“And yes,” she added with a polite smile, “I just quoted SpongeBob!”
Naranjo concluded, “Tonight begins a new chapter of memories. I’m not going to tell you how to go out there and make the world a better place, because half of you aren’t listening and the rest won’t remember what I said 20 minutes from now!
“What I will tell you is whatever you do, do it right. if you do what you do with determination, you’ll get the best experiences out of life.”
In his valedictory address, Colton Schubert said, “I’d like to talk about the future and what it holds for all of us. ... Somebody once told me that the point to life was to live. I know it seems shallow, but when I thought about it, I realized that living life can truly be whatever you want it to be.
“The most important thing is that when you figure out where you’re going, make sure that it means something to you. And if you go it alone, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Cherish all the moments of your youth, never forget the fun, carefree times in this community, the memories and the mistakes we made, because there will be things that we all regret,” he continued. “In 20 years, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than anything that you did.”
Schubert then looked to a childhood icon to conclude his address.
“I’d like to quote Dr. Seuss, who said, ‘You have a brain 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, and you’re the one who will decide where to go.’”
The senior class gift was the planting of a cottonwood tree on campus with a memorial resting bench beneath it. Before announcing the senior gift, Trevor Levias told his fellow graduates, “Don’t let this be the greatest accomplishment of your lives.”
Dr. Bob Pappalardo, Poston Butte principal, pointed out that many of the graduates started high school in other districts.
“They put their trust in us to help get them to this place in life,” he said, adding, “The diploma you receive tonight will not be the end of your education, by far. Trust me. It’s just a mile marker for your life. It will be an ever daunting task. You will have to keep on working hard and struggle to realize your dreams. But those things are all within your grasp.
“If you’re willing to stay focused and make the sacrifice that is required, you can do great things,” Pappalardo continued. “As you go out in the world, be bold, stretch yourself, have a vision for what you want to be, where you want to go, and dream big. Decide that you want to make a difference, and then do it.”
In a unique touch, the principals of Walker Butte, Copper Basin and Skyline Ranch K-8s – the primary source for Poston Butte students – spoke as well.
John Allee, principal at Walker Butte, told the graduates, “Life is full of changes. Some are short term, some are long term. This past summer, I was faced with a life-threatening experience. I could have given up and said, ‘Why me?’ Or I could meet the challenge and fight for my life. I decided to fight.
“I challenge each of you graduates, build your foundation of faith, to define who you are and what you believ. Reflect and learn from the past, and do not live in the past. Keep moving forward, and continue to grow as a person. Find something you love to do, go after it, and do it with integrity.”
Maribel Lopez, principal at Skyline Ranch K-8, said, “Four years ago, I spoke to you about transitioning your learning skills to high school. I shared with you that you would begin your journey in high school facing your daily challenges and to push yourself to excel in school and activities.
“Now that you’ve reached your high school goal, I challenge you once again to succeed throughout your future. Take pride, Bulldogs, and thank you for making me proud.”