PENDLETON — The Pendleton High School Class of 2022 trod across turf soggy with recent rains as they stepped into the next phase of their lives.
The wet grass didn’t bother them one bit.
As senior speaker Melinda Cramp would point out, these 210 Buckaroos made it through much more to earn their diplomas Saturday morning, June 4.
Pendleton High’s 130th commencement ceremony began in the Pendleton Round-Up Arena with words from Principal Pat Dutcher.
“It’s a day many of you looked forward to for a long time, and also a day many of you thought would not happen,” he told the class and their families and friends looking on from the arena stands.
None of them made it this far alone, he said, a theme Senior Class President Kyle Liscom echoed.
“We could not have done this without you,” he told the crowd.
Liscom said seniors earlier in the week visited their former elementary schools, where teachers and students lined the halls to greet them and wish them well. The moment also gave seniors the opportunity to thank the teachers from their past.
“It was a great way to be able to see one more time some of the teachers that had a lasting impact on us,” he said, then thanked families as well for their support and understanding
Cramp took to the lectern next. Today is about celebration and hope, she said.
“Hope for a bright and beautiful future that may bless all us graduates as we step forth into our next journey,” she said.
The PHS Class of 2022, Cramp continued, is resilient, determined, hard working, compassionate and competitive.
“The Class of 2022 has persevered through numerous obstacles,” she said, “including the obvious COVID-19 pandemic, but also awkward homecoming dances, challenging AP tests, unwanted middle school drama, unbeatable late-night homework assignments, online school, tedious college applications and the demolition of two former elementary schools.”
Change, she said, has been the consistent element in their lives, and simultaneously one of life’s greatest lessons.
Cramp recalled numerous fun moments classmates have shared, from “over-the-top dress-up days” to long bus rides to sporting events to “very competitive boys dance team performances.” The graduation class is full of young business owners, athletes, artists, livestock showers, car enthusiasts and more.
“Our diversity as a class will always be our strength, as it has shown us all of our differences and similarities over the years,” she said, “and allowed us to connect in so many different ways.”
Cramp encouraged her fellow graduates to take a slow down now and then to enjoy life and she urged them to embrace failure, overcome obstacles, dream big and treat others with respect.
When senior Lucy Oyama took the mic, she stressed how quickly this day arrived. Just two days ago with five minutes left in her last class, she said, did she fully realize she would not be coming back to high school.
Today is a bittersweet moment, she said, reflecting back on years of shared moments and memories with classmates, but also one to build on. The Class of 2022, she said, made it through online learning and brought back Mud Wars, held a homecoming and a prom.
“Now we’re ready to take that come-back attitude and apply it to the rest of our lives,” Oyama said.
And while this change feels big now and “appears to be grander than anything we have imagined,” one day it will feel small. The swift passage of time, she said, should teach us “never take the moments for granted.”
She urged the class to cherish the moments they have coming before they embark on new adventures.
“I already miss all of you,” she said, “my peers, my friends, my incredible teachers and role models.”
Dutcher again took the mic to call out the names of honor students. More than two dozen students graduated with high honors, meaning they had a high school GPA of 3.5-3.75. More than 50 students graduated with highest honors, meaning a high school GPA of 3.75-4.0. And 15 students graduated with honors diplomas, meaning they meet all the usual graduation requirements plus earned seven credits in the school’s highest classes.
For the 98th year, PHS presented seniors with Lantern Cups — the award veteran teaches vote on noting students with significant personal development and high academic achievement. The 2022 Lantern Cups went to Liscomb, Oyajma, Keri Kunz and Andy Oja.
Dutcher also said 98 seniors earned more than 340 scholarships. Local groups and organizations provided almost $208,000 in scholarships, he said, and the grand total for all scholarships, was more than $4.45 million.
“Pretty impressive number,” he said.
After that, students one by one stode to the platform and accepted their diplomas. And of course the Class of 2022 did one last thing en masse: They moved the tassels on their graduation caps from the right to the left.
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