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Graduation: Missoula high school seniors get some advice and revel in friendship

Graduation: Missoula high school seniors get some advice and revel in friendship

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More than 750 students in Missoula graduated from high school Saturday during three separate ceremonies at the University of Montana.

"Your dreams can become reality," principal Paul Johnson told the graduating seniors at Big Sky High School's commencement.

Johnson said the class has "one great attitude. But now we need to think about where you go from here," he said.

"First, within about the next 10 years, you'll find youself sounding a lot like your parents. Do not be afraid - this is normal," he said.

In the long run, "you can realize your dreams if you work at it," Johnson said.

"With your attitude, your dreams, your imagination and your knowledge, you students are going to do a fine job," he said.

At the Hellgate High School ceremony, graduating senior Simon Sponberg focused on the value of friendship. He was one of a succession of speakers at the commencement.

"I'm sure that you've all heard the traditional graduation speech, where some adult - a success in the community - showers us with wave after wave of advice," said Sponberg.

"For me, Hellgate is special because of friendships. … The most valuable thing I've learned at Hellgate is how to have fun and be happy. It was my friends - not a textbook or a lecture - that taught me."

At the Sentinel High School graduation, former English teacher Gordon Chamberlain, now a dean of students at Hellgate, warned the students against taking themselves too seriously.

"Of course, we seek a deeper spiritual meaning. We believe in the unseen by faith, and we try to understand the meaning of life. But what we mostly want is a good belly laugh and enough money to go out and eat once in awhile," Chamberlain said.

"Don't trust people who think they really do know it all. … People don't need another know-it-all overblown person with all the answers," Chamberlain said.

The Sentinel ceremony included a remembrance of two students who were killed last year when they encountered a freight train on a railroad trestle.

"As these graduates have progressed through their short lives, they've had many joys, successes and good times together. There have been some unhappy times; there has been some sorrow," said principal Bruce Zinne.

"We will not forget Joshua Thompson, son of Bob and Marcia Thompson, nor will we forget Samuel Stauffer, son of Jim and Diane Stauffer."

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