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Valley Journals

Our Graduated Class of 2016

Jul 13, 2016 10:29AM ● By Liz Suggs

Students walk through their processional excited for the postgraduate feelings to begin. —Island Photography

By Elizabeth Suggs


June 3 at 7 p.m. marked the expected graduation for seniors and early graduates at Highland High School at the Energy Solutions Arena (ESA).

While the graduation didn’t actually start until 7 p.m., students were expected to start lining up at 6:20 p.m. And because caps and gowns were returned before the graduates left the ground level, students had to take pictures before lineup. For Audrey Hall, secretary to the principal, there wasn’t much of a problem, especially with the students themselves.

“There’s a huge difference between ninth- and twelfth-graders,” Hall said. “Our seniors are very independent. You could tell when they were walking they were ready to be on their own.”

Unlike other years at Highland High School, students carried themselves gladly, and for Hall it was “impressive how strong they are.”

Hall applauded not only the student’s independence but also the walk out to get their diploma. There were “no hiccups, no falls,” said Hall. The entire ceremony went very well and that’s because of, according to Hall, how often the students were rehearsing the graduation.

Hall said that though the difference was small from previous years (she’s the one who has worked on the graduation ceremony the longest), she has seen where to focus the needs of the students, and that included repeated rehearsals.

“I guess you could say that I’m more of a veteran in our team when putting [the graduation] together,” Hall said. “It’s easier to know what needs to get done to have a smoother process. It’s not bad, just different.”

Some of the highlighted speakers at the graduation were the Board of Education’s Kristi Swett, Principal Jenson and valedictorian Anamika Blomgren, who gave a moving speech on moving out and being dependent.

While Hall agreed that each and every speaker had “really well-thought-out speeches,” Hall said her “favorite, favorite” was student body president Marcus Leone’s welcome speech.

But speeches and walking weren’t the only things on the minds of the graduation planners. Principal Jenson brought Highland High’s “Make-A-Wish” fundraiser recipient, Sam, to present the Spirit of Highland High award.

Established in 1981 by senior student body officers, the Spirit of Highland High award this year gave Sam the chance to give back to the student body who helped make her “make-a-wish” a reality. She awarded the honor to senior student body officer Mason Alba.

During the second week of May 2016, Sam was able to go to Disney World because Highland High School raised $11,000 in the “Big Fundraiser, Big Wish” campaign in order to make her wish come true.

“She was so excited up on stage,” Hall said. “It was really cute and moving.”

Next, Principal Jenson presented his gift to the 2016 senior class.  

“It was an original poster design of the H-Rock [on the mountain] that incorporated our senior theme of ‘Tradition, Passion, Ambition,’” Principal Jenson said. “I ran a signed, limited edition of 311 (the number of seniors in the graduating class) and gave each graduate a print with their diploma.”

For 13 years Principal Jenson was just “Mr. Jenson,” as Highland High’s art teacher, so the art piece seemed fitting, according to Jenson.

According to Principal Jenson, the art piece was going to be used as the next “It’s the Highland Way” poster, adding the tagline “tradition, passion, ambition.”

“This was a really good class,” Hall said. “Everyone did a really good job.”