Class of ’14 will ‘move mountains’
Published: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Fifty-two students made their way across the stage Saturday with diplomas in hand, officially graduating from Custer High School.
With four speakers during the commencement exercise, the overlaying theme was moving forward in life. The first to take to the stage was Captain Encourager, otherwise known as Mike Pahl, who spoke to students about encouragement in his speech, “The Power of Encouragement is Only a Question Away.”
“The power of encouragement has exponential possibilities,” he told the graduating class. “After the events of today settle down for you, give that thought…one person at a time. You can change lives by encouraging, building relationships and connecting with people. There is a world out there waiting for you, those who are curious enough to find answers to your questions.”
Pahl encouraged students to try the things they are passionate and curious about. And should they need help, ask for it.
“Don’t give up on your selves. Each of you has significance,” he said. “Be encouragers along the way for one person at a time.
Three graduating students also made stages. First up — after taking a “selfie” on his phone — was Israel Parsons, who reflected on what this moment felt like.
“I’ve had a recurring dream for 12 long, hard, painful years. In that dream I heard, ‘Congratulations Custer High School graduating class of 2014. Looks like you did it.’ And we did,” he said. “Today I and my fellow graduates get to live out that dream.”
In his dream, Parsons admitted he was emotional, shedding a few tears. But in real life, he was excited to graduate, mustering the energy to jump for joy on stage and quoting Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’ When I read this while writing the speech, I felt guilty because I thought I was going to cry,” he said. “These days we spent in high school should not be the best days of our lives. If map testing and homework are the best years of your life, you have done something wrong. I challenge everyone to make more amazing memories and be the amazing people I know you all can be.”
Hallie Uhrich also drew inspiration from Dr. Seuss in her speech, quoting from the popular book “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
“‘We have brains in our heads, feet in our shoes and we can see ourselves in any direction we choose. We are on our own and we know what we know and we are the people who will decide where to go,’” Uhrich quoted. “Wherever that may be, we are off to do great things. We will have to learn from our mistakes…and adapt to being alone.”
Uhrich said while being alone, there will be issues and scary problems to face, but it is part of growing up.
“We will make it through being all alone and find our way back to success,” Uhrich said. “‘Will we succeed? Yes — 98¾ percent guaranteed.’ Class of 2014, we will move mountains. Our mountain is waiting, so (let’s) get on our way.”
Myles Kirk followed the speech with his own mountain metaphor, encouraging his fellow classmates to stay on top. According to Kirk, the climb up the figurative mountain began when the students were freshman.
“All those days of first hour classes and just wanting to sleep and now we’re here. It was a climb that has taken this class four long, tough years,” he said. “We can also compare this to a saddle, trying to stay on top.”
Kirk said staying on top can be hard, especially when students have to balance school, family and a social life. “The importance of completing high school is now heightened in this modern world, requiring us to step up,” he said. “I believe that through good times and bad, the friends we have made along this way will remain as friends.”
“Life is all about trying to make the world better for the next generation and I believe this class can do that,” Kirk added. “We have completed the first step of the climb we call life. This is only the beginning for us, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Mark Naugle, superintendent of Custer School District, recognized the class of 1964 that graduated 50 years ago. He also briefly addressed the class, encouraging them to use the tools they have learned.
“You will have choices to make.” he said. “Thirty years ago I was on this stage and my choice was to come back and serve the students here.”
Click Here To See More Stories Like This