SOUTHERN UTAH – Another year has come and gone. As this year’s high school seniors get ready to step into the next phase of their lives, we asked them:
“What are you taking with you from high school that you’ll still be talking about at your 20-year reunion?”
Here’s what the class of 2015 had to say:
“Coach Wayne always saying, ‘Stay humble, stay hungry.’ We can apply that to our lives to keep going, keep striving and be better, and get more out of everything you do.” – Logan Schweitzer, graduating senior, Dixie High School
Dixie High School Principal Sharla Campbell had some words for the seniors: “I think the class of 2015 has distinguished themselves, probably because they have individually excelled, but have learned that to really perform at their highest level, they work together.”
Aliesha Houston, a member of the Kanab High School girls basketball team, said she will still be talking about winning the region basketball tournament this school year and going on to take second place at the state tournament.
“A great experience,” Houston said of the win.
“Probably the biggest thing … is that I’ll be the only one, you know? A graduating class of one,” Jessop said.
Water Canyon School reopened in 2014 after being closed for many years. In its first incarnation, the school did not house high school students. So, as he accepts his diploma, Jessop makes Water Canyon School history as its first-ever graduating senior. It’s a milestone no one can ever touch.
Eric Draper, one of four class valedictorians at El Capitan School in Colorado City, Arizona, said being in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) has helped prepare him for professional life. He also said being one of just 15 graduating seniors was incredibly memorable.
“Being in a small class, I really got to know every single student – really know about their personal lives,” he said. “… We’re more of a large family than a high school class.”
Canyon View High School graduating senior Tate Womack said she will always remember Mr. Merrell, who always made sure his students felt good about their classwork and their progress. As she leaves high school, Womack said, she will always remember Merrell for his sense of humor and for always being a great teacher who encouraged his students to think outside the box.
“He would always reassure you that you were going to pass the test and make you feel really, really good about yourself,” she said.
When he was a freshman, Cedar High School senior Jake Richey said, he was welcomed in by the members of the senior class student government. They greeted him as though they had known him his whole life, which helped ease the transition into a new, intimidating environment.
“It was awesome, because I now was able to do that for the new freshmen coming in,” he said, “and we made them feel at home, and we made them feel like we’ve got more unity.”
“Coach Johnson, our science teacher, taught us how to write a paper to the right length by using a comparison to a miniskirt,” Bartlett said. “He taught us that it needs to be long enough to cover the information needed, but short enough that it is definitely still interesting.”
Tristan Duffey, a senior graduating from Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts, said he will remember the friends he made during his time in school. As the year comes to a close, Duffey said, his friends will eventually go their separate ways, but he hopes to be able to continue a relationship with them.
“I believe that my friends and the experiences I had with them have shaped me into who I have become now and who I will become in the future,” Duffey said.
One person Desert Hills High School senior Braden Evans said he will remember 20 years from now is his teacher Dow Christenson. Along with being Evans’ advanced placement math instructor, Christenson is also Evans’ tennis coach and a positive and influential mentor in his life.
“Having that relationship that’s on and off the court is pretty special, you know,” Evans said, “and having him to help me academically as well as athletically.”
Individuality seems to be a prevalent theme at Hurricane High School, as students said they’ve learned to be who they are. One graduating senior, AnneBelle Justice, said she didn’t let high school get in the way of her personality.
“Don’t let anyone tell you not to be yourself, because you have to be yourself,” she said. “… I’m being who I am and I’m going to stay true to that.”
Curtis Thygerson, a graduating senior, said he learned to respect others; popularity ends, he said, but respect lasts forever.
Snow Canyon High School senior Tayah Nelson said she’ll remember a particular Thanksgiving in the National Honor Society, one of the high school’s service clubs, when members anonymously delivered Thanksgiving baskets to families in the area.
“That was a really neat experience,” Nelson said. “I think I’ll always remember that, because we had to get everything together and go to the store and find different families and leave (the baskets) anonymously. I just like working with that group of people and making a difference in the community.”
Humphries said she believes those relationships among fellow students, as well as with their teachers, will last a very long time and influence her life and the lives of others long after graduation.
“We’re closer together,” she said. “Those relationships, they’ve bonded us.”
The students at Millcreek High School seem to have learned responsibility in the last four years, as each student questioned offered the same lesson learned: “Don’t procrastinate.” One Millcreek graduating senior, Brooke Doyle, said she’s learned to “get it done” when it came to homework.
“I just dug myself deeper and deeper into this hole and now I’m totally paying for it,” she said.
Michael Perez, another graduating senior, said he is in the same boat as many students, struggling to reach the finish line and barely getting any sleep.
When asked if they would make it to graduation, however, all of the seniors gave a resolute, “Yes!”
“One thing I’ll probably remember, even in 20 years, is Mrs. Jacobsen. She’s a language arts teacher, and she’s really inspirational. One thing she always taught us is, ‘You can sleep when you’re dead!’ It’s kind of funny, but it’s so true. A lot of times we just sit back and we go, ‘Oh, we can do it later. We can sleep now.’ It taught me to live free and do what you want to do, because when you’re dead, you’re dead. I really appreciate everything she taught me.” – Hillary Beecher, Pine View High School graduating senior
Some graduating seniors have reached the high school finish line in a nontraditional way. The Washington County School District’s Utah Online School has 11 seniors graduating at the close of its third year of operation.
“In 20 years, I’ll still know that no matter how hard things get, I can persevere and make it through. I have learned that I can do hard things and shine.” – Jessica Cox, Utah Online School valedictorian
St. George News team reporters contributed to this report.
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