SEELEY LAKE — Twenty-eight students from Seeley-Swan High School celebrated and reflected on their high school careers during the school’s graduation ceremony on Sunday.
“We hope you look back on these last four years with a smile,” principal Kathleen Pecora said to the three rows of students wearing black gowns and graduation caps.
Salutatorian Keaton Johnson recalled his first day of high school as a freshman when he learned how to open his locker and where the classrooms were, finally understanding why the freshmen needed their own first day.
“Eventually we all figured it out, but I think we can all agree that it has seemed like a blur since then,” Johnson said.
Valedictorian Elizabeth Lorentz echoed similar sentiments when she quoted C.S. Lewis: “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.”
Over the last four years each day didn’t seem all that different from the last, said Lorentz, who will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the fall. But looking back, she said she is a completely different person than she was her freshman year of high school.
Though she said she hopes she’s graduating a little wiser, she advised her classmates to take advice from their elders — the parents, grandparents and teachers who have continuously supported them.
“Whether we like it or not they’re usually right,” Lorentz said. “They’ve seen more than us, therefore, know more than us.”
Lorentz gave her classmates one piece of advice she learned from her mother, to ask herself if she’d had any laughs today.
“I think being able to laugh and enjoy the moment is one of the most important things, if not the most, that we can look for as we go out into the world,” Lorentz said.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker Loren Rose, chief operating officer of Pyramid Mountain Lumber, gave the soon-to-be graduates one last quiz.
“Who can remember your class motto?” Rose asked as few hands went into the air. The motto, a Stephen Hawking quote printed in the commencement program, was “remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”
Rose challenged that advice, if you don’t look where you’re going you might not get where you want to be or know when you’ve arrived, he said.
He then gave the students some advice of his own — to be happy, stay enthusiastic and choose their own definition of success.
“Can you be unhappy and successful?” Rose asked. “Yes, if you let others define success for you.”
“The only time you fail is when you quit,” Rose said. The definition of success is personal and constantly changing. Today, he said, the students were successful. They’d made it through high school.
The students' high school careers officially came to an end as each student crossed the stage, accepted their diploma and hugged faculty and staff members as family, friends and community members cheered them on.
The afternoon came to a close with cake, lemonade and photos taken with friends before they parted ways for college, a gap year or enlisting in the armed forces.