SH graduates 55 students

Members of the South Hamilton Class of 2017 lead the way during the processional Sunday afternoon.

JEWELL — To the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” played by the high school band, the 58 graduating South Hamilton seniors entered the school gymnasium Sunday afternoon as students. When they left an hour later, they were alumni.

On a cloudy, breezy day when the temperature was lower than any graduation day in memory, the family and friends gathered in the gym warmly received the class as they processed in. “Your life will be built on what you put into it,” school board president Will Johnston told the class to start the program. “Never stop learning, and remember to always give a short speech.”

Superintendent Ken Howard encouraged the class to be passionate. “Do what you love, even if you don’t love it every day,” he said. “You will be at your best when you are happy and feel joy.”

Graduating senior Brandon Barquist, chosen by faculty for the duty, introduced commencement speakers Paxton Wicks and Gabe Rueger. They took the audience on a little trip down memory lane since the class started kindergarten at South Hamilton in 2004, when, according to Wicks, “each of us soon found our own homes here at this school.”

Rueger thanked their teachers and also remembered the bus drivers who got them to school each day. He said that some of what his class will remember is “underclassmen parking in the front row, the lack of functioning air conditioning at school, and Chromebooks.” He also thanked the teachers who will be retiring this year, Elaine Gansen and Steve Olson, along with veteran cooks Barb Patterson and Diane Holt.

Commencement speakers Paxton Wicks and Gabe Rueger address the South Hamilton Class of 2017 on Sunday afternoon.

Johnston presented a diploma and shook the hand of each new graduate as high school principal Scott Dryer read their names. “I remember meeting with your class when I was new in this job and you were all in seventh grade,” he recalled. “I told you then that life and school will be easy if you will just treat each other as you want to be treated and just love each other. And you have.

“We all love you, too,” Dryer concluded before he asked the class to stand, move their tassels to the other side of their mortarboard, and turn to face the audience.