JAY — Hundreds packed the Spruce Mountain High School gym on a sweltering Sunday afternoon to witness a festive commencement ceremony for 97 seniors.

“A graduation ceremony is always a special occasion,” said Principal Thomas Plourde in his opening address to the Class of 2017. “It’s the culmination of years of hard work … It is only fitting that today we commemorate the road you all have traveled together during the last four years.”

In her speech, SMHS Class of 2017 Valedictorian Camryn Berry used prime numbers to illustrate the journey she and her classmates had taken.

“Five. That’s how many fish the seniors hid around the high school for part of the senior prank,” she said. “I say ‘part of’ because 11 is the time we set an alarm clock to ring at, an alarm clock we put on top of the speakers so that it could not be retrieved.”

Berry described her class as an “eclectic bunch, who comes together as an unstoppable force at any opportunity to compete against the classes below us.”

“From dominating Phoenix Olympix with our hallway decorating to putting on the sickest prom Spruce as seen, one thing is for certain: The universe is not prepared for how flippin’ awesome we are,” she said. 

Salutatorian Trevor Doiron emphasized taking control of one’s own destiny by being involved in community projects.

“One piece of advice I received early on that has been the foundation of some of my proudest accomplishments during my teenage life is: If you don’t like something, it’s up to you to change it,” he said.

Doiron cited examples of work he had done, such as building a community garden that provides vegetables for the less fortunate and serving as the youngest male delegate in the country at the Democratic National Convention last year.

He warned of the dangers of a my-way-or-the-highway approach to societal problems, and reminded graduates that taking the time to listen and understand different points of view was critical in maintaining a civilized society.

“If the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement can forgive the seven justices that ultimately relegated the status of African Americans in this country for an entire century, just think of all the problems we could solve, all the global conflicts we could resolve if we just took a few minutes to listen, to acknowledge the history, to understand,” Doiron said.

Guest speaker Bill Picard spoke of the challenges he had faced in overcoming spastic cerebral palsy. He used a talking keyboard to communicate.

“Making choices is the most important thing that you have to do in your everyday life,” he said. “When we are in the moment, we do not think of the long-term and short-term effects each choice will have on your life, and impact it will have on others.”

Class President Nate Steele said that graduation is not the end, but rather, the beginning of a new adventure.

“That diploma you hold in your hands today is really just your learner’s permit for the rest of the drive through life,” he said. “Remember, you don’t have to be smarter than the next person — all you have to do is be willing to work harder than the next person.”

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Members of the Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2017 march into the gym at the start of the school’s graduation ceremony on Sunday.

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Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2017 Valedictorian Camryn Berry, second from left, speaks at the school’s graduation ceremony on Sunday. Flanking her, left to right, are Principal Thomas Plourde, guidance counselors Annika Durrell and Brooke Newton, and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director James Black.

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