JAY — Spruce Mountain High School’s 83 seniors listened intently at Sunday’s graduation ceremony as retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Helaina Lake challenged them to set high expectations for themselves.

Lake, who was seriously wounded during her military service in Afghanistan, spoke of the obstacles she had overcome after she was wounded. She told the graduating class that they, too, could overcome roadblocks with a positive attitude and creativity.

“Never pass up an opportunity to make a difference,” she said. “Find your passion. Never quit trying.”

Never be held back by society’s expectations, Lake told the class.

“You do not have to accept standards that are beneath you,” she said. “Rewrite them; beat the odds.”

In her address, salutatorian Rylee Saunders told her classmates to take the life lessons learned at SMHS and apply them going forward.


“My fellow graduates, carry onward with the wisdom gained from these past four years,” she said. “Wisdom from a wealth of knowledge, from the best and worst times, from your faculty and peers.”

Saunders also reminded the class not to portray characters opposite of themselves.

“Instead, we must be ourselves and be the best version of ourselves that we can be,” she said. “Every one of us has a quality that sets us apart from one another.”

Valedictorian Jordan Daigle’s speech focused on the role each one of the seniors played in society, much like the creatures in the ocean.

“Just like how one species is linked to another in an ecosystem, we are all linked together in a community,” he said. “Except, there is a catch — animals are born into their niche, but we are not.”

Class President Delsi Hewins, in her farewell address, urged her classmates to go slow and savor the moment.

“Remember to thank your teachers, janitors, all the faculty at Spruce Mountain High School for helping you through some hectic years,” she said.


Members of the Spruce Mountain High School Class of 2018 at their graduation on Sunday. (Barry Matulaitis/Sun Journal)

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