Before Friday, June 10’s ceremony, soon-to-be Crescent Valley High graduates gathered in the cafeteria to take pictures and adjust their caps and gowns.
“What’s happening today is as record of what we’ve all done and what we’ve gone through” Carlie Magee said. “Our last normal year was freshman year, but senior year has been amazing.”
They would soon walk out before friends and family, who filled the stands of the Crescent Valley High School gym. Audience members carried in balloons, flowers and signs in anticipation to see their loved ones walk across the stage and receive their diploma.
There were 210 graduating seniors in the Crescent Valley High School Class of 2022.
Magee, a member of the robotics team, wore a cap with flashing lights. Other member of the robotics team wore similar caps.
The graduation was a moment of recognition for a class that faced challenges like none before it.
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“It feels pretty good, and it’s exciting to be finally graduating,” Blake Byer said. “It means a lot. It’s been quite an interesting four years, but to be here with my friends is amazing.”
The ceremony opened with remarks from CVHS Principal Aaron McKee. He began by recognizing different groups of students with accolades, among them, achievements in sports, the arts and more.
He also mentioned the 15 valedictorians: Blake Byer, Cade Byer, Riley Callahan, Kathryn Crawford, Riley Godek, Jemin Kim, Sarah Kohler, JP Li, Juliah Lyon, Ava McKee, Samantha Morag, Simone Moulton, Max Solensky, Kate Voltz and Andrew Zhang.
There were also six salutatorians: Wren Condon, Bessie He, Iris Miller-Sherman, Henry Pappas, Sophia Perakis and Harry Yu.
During his remarks, McKee pointed out how difficult it was for this class in particular to navigate high school. He likened it to using a compass and trying to stay the course.
“What has fascinated me the most and captivated my attention has been the individuals that walk with integrity, respect and compassion even under the most difficult circumstances,” McKee said.
The ceremony also featured multiple student speakers. The student body presidents, Simone Moulton and Theo Abadilla, gave a joint speech highlighting all the good times — and the bad — the class shared.
Vincent Bottaro explained how he believes “ghosts are real” and appear when a memory comes rushing back to the present. He also encouraged his classmates to reflect on their last few moments together.
“When I raise my hand for a wave goodbye, please just give me a high-five instead and say, ‘See you soon,’ even if you know it’s a lie — especially if you know it’s a lie,” Bottaro said. “Don’t leave me hanging.”
Kayla Davis spoke about being a biracial woman and not always feeling like she belonged. However, she urged her classmates to stay true to themselves as they start a new journey.
“The greatest thing you could ever do is be you,” she said.
Seniors Yael Raich and Kate Voltz also addressed their classmates. The final student speakers were senior class presidents Riley Callahan and Michael Gu.
The two managed to get some digs in directed at rival Corvallis High School while also recounting memories from a unique four years.
“Even as we hold onto these memories, it is time to close out this chapter and begin a new one,” Gu said.
Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or Madison.Pfeifer@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_