2017 graduation wisdom shared

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, June 15, 2017

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Enjoy and savor today,” said Rebecca Burnett. Burnett knows that with both my daughter and nephew in the Class of ʼ17, this graduation is especially significant for my family.

Graduation ceremonies celebrate beginnings and wisdom featuring speeches attempting to capture the unique wisdom of each graduating class. The speeches of this graduation accomplished that daunting task.

Valedictorian Kelsey Schoenmeyer and Salutatorian Kaitlyn Smith lead the PHS Class of 2017 into graduation. (Contributed)

The Class of ʼ17 is PHS’s last class to share high school with Helena students who moved to their own school for sophomore year. As a result, this class ended freshman year at PHS discovering that losing the daily interaction of sharing schools results in both pain and growth, as old friends only sometimes remain in touch, while new friends broaden experience.

Both student speeches recaptured these graduates’ PHS experience including football wins, Write Nights and homecomings along with both the perks and trials of their classes and becoming a new school system.

Class president Elliot Spillers celebrated being a winning powderpuff coach for “both junior and senior year.” He also recalled freshman year’s snow apocalypse and the contrast of freshman year’s crowded halls with sophomore year’s hollow halls that were soon replaced with the new closeness of this graduating class.

Valedictorian Kelsey Schoenmeyer revealed wisdom gained, counting all knowledge as valid—from the lessons of AP Calculus to the lessons of the broken finger suffered during the powderpuff game.

PHS Principal Amanda Wilbanks offered advice.

“While I’m tempted to pepper you with praise,” said Wilbanks, “I’ve decided instead to share Linda Kranz’s book ‘Only One You.’”

Kranz’s book is a delightful mixture of art and wisdom. As Literary Magazine adviser and AP English Language teacher, this class’s commitment to many of these lessons is reflected in their work including: “Look for beauty wherever you are and keep the memory of it with you,” “Appreciate art” and “If you take a wrong turn, circle back.”

Kranz’s final message is “There’s only one you in this great big world—make it a better place.”

Class of 2017, we wish you success as your journey begins anew.