Graduation Day finally arrives for students

Brady Oltmans photo Students throw their caps in the air of a crowded Wrangler Gym during the graduation ceremony.

PINEDALE – Wrangler Gym was at an all-time capacity. People stood in the doorways between the Pinedale High School band and storage closets. Others retreated to the hallways for fresh air.

It was Graduation Day. So many locals and loved ones wanted to wish well the Pinedale and Skyline high school classes of 2021 that it was a borderline fire hazard.

Graduating senior Hailey Noble set the tone, welcoming those gathered and contextualizing this class. They experienced normal times, endured a pandemic’s toll on normalcy and emerged on the other side as prosperous high school graduates. Pinedale High Principal Brian Brisko said he got emotional looking at the group of seniors gathered and seated in the middle of the gym. He said their experience included the worst two years of education he could imagine. He also introduced the two main speakers.

Reese Noble, the class salutatorian, took over for Brisko. She delivered a message of inspiration, reminding those of how far they have come and how it’s all prepared for what’s ahead.

“Looking at the world, and at our nation, we’re not even getting started,” she said. “We have an energy crisis, global warming, mass unemployment and so much more. So if you’re a little scared for our future, I don’t blame you. I am too. That world is scary out there but I know our class can beat the odds.”

She stood in front of her graduating classmates and reminded them they can do anything they put their minds to. And she encouraged her classmates to make their marks, no matter how little they’re perceived to be.

Valedictorian Zoe Griffin followed by immediately lowering the microphone, remarking it’s because she’s short, and drawing a laugh. She kept that momentum going throughout. She brought massive laughter at stories of misfired bear spray, realist messages over the speakers in middle school and activities all over. She also got the full-capacity gym to sing “Happy birthday” to band teacher Justin Smith.

Griffin also put into context that not many schools across the country were able to hold classes, dances, livestock judging contests or sports in a conventional setting. Pinedale was able to do all of those things from fall to graduation.

She tied her speech together with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt she had on her wall next to a poster of Dora The Explorer.

“Far and away the best prize a life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing,” she shared.

Looking back, she thought that summarized time at Pinedale High School pretty well.

Brisko dedicated time to honor all of the Congressional Award winners, two bronzes and one gold, from Pinedale. Carson Gregory and Reese Noble earned bronze while Zoe Griffin was the school’s golden honoree.

The choir and band performed, and a ceremonial slideshow was shown honoring all the graduates. And following diploma handouts, students finally turned their tassels and let their caps fly. At last, they were graduates.

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