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Crescent Valley ceremony honors seniors and one special senior citizen
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Crescent Valley ceremony honors seniors and one special senior citizen

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Cole Laureno got a good laugh during Crescent Valley High School’s graduation ceremony Friday night with a line about how next year’s seniors would have a hard time following the class of 2019.

“We’ve set the bar high. I believe our level of procrastination and laziness is astounding. For all the seniors coming up, good luck,” he said.

Another speaker, Sofia Molvi, got hearty applause for her remarks on how true leaders display daring, courageousness, and empathy.

“Being a leader means having respect for others and having the courage to be vulnerable,” she said.

Friday's ceremony generated other, more personal, reactions, such as tearful choir students trading hugs after singing together for the last time, or audience members bellowing out the names of loved ones as they received their diplomas.

But the biggest reaction from Crescent Valley's 250 or so graduates and the other attendees at Friday's event came in response to a speech from the school's retiring athletic director, Craig Ellingson.

“I’m trying to bond with you now because you are seniors and you are graduating and I’m a senior citizen and I’m retiring,” Ellingson said.

Ellingson, who gave the faculty address, framed his speech around comparisons between high school seniors graduating and a newly retiring senior citizen like himself.

High school seniors at Crescent Valley for four years would have spent about 22 percent of their lives attending the school, he said.

“I’ve spent 67 percent of my life at Crescent Valley,” said Ellingson, who has worked at the school since 1977. “I would have to live to be 190 to have spent 22 percent of my life here.”

He said both types of seniors also get frequent questions about what comes next for them. Ellingson gave a preview of what he'd be doing with his retirement by having a puppy named Lola brought out; he said he'd be taking the puppy home in three weeks.

He also alluded to the clothes they were wearing Friday: for the graduates, caps and gowns, and for Ellingson, a suit.

"We're both never wearing these outfits again after tonight," he said.

Ellingson asked the group if he could graduate with them, to which the seniors gave enthusiastic applause.

Ellingson said he’s been amazed by the class, which won a school record four state championships. He said among the group he’s seen a lot of passion.

“Many of you have passion and with passion comes joy. ... There is also disappointment. That’s life. You need to embrace both,” he said.

He added that he has been influenced in his life by Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” and encouraged students to follow those agreements:

“Be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions and always do your best.”

He ended his remarks by speaking about the class’ impact on the school.

“Tonight is not a night to say goodbye. Crescent Valley will stay with you the rest of your lives. Whenever someone asks where you went to high school, you will always be able to say you are a Raider. And you will always be a part of Crescent Valley. You left an impact here this year,” he said. “Thank you very much for letting me graduate with you.”

Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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