The Corvallis High School Spartans Class of 2022 are ready to take on their next chapter, whether it be attending university, going on a mission or heading straight into the workforce.
But first, on Friday, June 10, they had to take on graduating, a culmination of some rocky years that included a global pandemic.
“Educationally, emotionally and politically this has been the world’s biggest and most screwed up sociology experiment ever,” Principal Matt Boring said in his graduation speech to more than 200 students. “So many people have failed the test — but not you guys.”
Boring told them he would miss them once they leave but added he knows it’s time they move on.
Friday evening’s ceremony took place in Gill Coliseum, and thousands of family and friends filled the arena with their triumphant cheers for the high school seniors. Earlier that day, many of the students walked through the hallways of their old elementary schools for Grad Walk, high-fiving and waving to teachers they knew way back when.
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Aside from almost two entire years online, these students went through a tough time when one of their classmates passed away last year. Graduate Chad Romrell carried with him a photo of his friend, Keegan, and received a standing ovation when his name was called to walk across the stage.
Romwell plans to serve a mission for his church after graduation, although he doesn’t know where yet.
“I’m not going to miss any of the learning,” Romwell joked. “But I will miss all the social aspects.”
Another student, Charles Justice, said he’s both excited and nervous to graduate, calling it a “mixed bag.”
“Now, you can’t blame someone when you do something wrong,” he said. “It’s the end of an era.”
Justice plans to go attend culinary school first at Linn-Benton Community College and then study abroad either in France or Italy.
Michelle Olivares said she will miss her dual-immersion class most of all.
“We’ve been a family for 13 years,” she said.
Olivares plans to attend cosmetology school after she has her baby.
CHS had a whopping 15 valedictorians: Sofia Alzugaray-Orellana, Aaron Boyd, Jaelin Gregory, Sam Gregory, Adrian Hsieh, Dylan Hyde, Madeline Nason, Jimena Noa Guevara, Rohan Pankaj, Elka Prechal, Sai Raja, Colin Smith, Kellen Sullivan, Hugh Weber and Thomas Wright.
Michelle Jin, Ella Morton and Clinton Nichols were the salutatorians.
The CHS wind ensemble and choirs performed throughout the ceremony, followed by speeches from elected student leaders. Student body President Taylor Young encouraged her peers to become active in their communities, because their generation will be the ones to solve social justice issues.
“No matter our age or generation, we are here now,” Young said. “What we do matters.”
Editor's note: This article has been updated to attribute a quote to a student.
Joanna Mann (she/her) covers education for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6076 or Joanna.Mann@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @joanna_mann_.