News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters High School Class of 2024 steps to future

Sisters High School’s 76th commencement ceremony, held Friday, June 14, featured themes of the importance of self-reflection, and the value of community as the 99 members of the graduating class completed the rite of passage toward adulthood.

Following the traditional entry march to “Pomp and Circumstance” senior members of the jazz choir gifted the audience with a heartfelt rendition of the national anthem. Principal Steve Stancliff shared welcoming remarks followed by a short address to the graduates.

Using the phrase “These are the days of miracle and wonder” from Paul Simon’s 1986 song “The Boy in the Bubble,” Stancliff wove a message of reflecting on, and continuing to seek, those daily miracles and wonders that take place in everyday life.

“Consider briefly some of the miraculous and wondrous experiences you have had these last four years: An evening of stargazing with the astronomy club; a moment in Spanish class when the difference between the preterite and the imperfect finally clicked; the hum and whirring of the CNC machine in the woodshop as it converted coded computer language into a beautifully ornamented head stock on the guitar you are building; the prose of Shakespeare; differential calculus; a perfect night at the free throw line as your fellow Outlaws cheered you on; a dear friend who knew exactly what to say when you needed it; an early morning message from the school declaring a snow day when your final presentation for second period class wasn’t quite ready.”

Presley Adelt, the student body president, stepped to the microphone next with a message of “taking the time.”

Adelt spoke of her realization during senior year that she was spending more time thinking about the future than what was happening around her in the present.

“Instead of yearning for an adventure hundreds of miles away, I took the time to explore the forest in my own backyard or the river just a short drive away,” she said. “I realize now that ‘taking the time’ is choosing to appreciate what you already have.”

She went on to cite examples of ways each of her classmates could “take the time” in the future.

“Take the time to call your grandmother and see how her week is going… take the time to learn about yourself and discover who you are as a person by your own definition, not by how others define you…take the time to make up with a family member now, because the ‘future you’ will thank you for figuring it out…take the time to spend the extra five minutes to make your friend’s birthday just that much more special… take the time to join in on the many opportunities available to you, while appreciating every second of each one.”

Following Adelt, seniors Savannah Baldwin, Molly Greaney, Grace Grimes, Kendall Guiney, Bryant Leaver, Blake Parker, and Dylan Rundle performed “Vienna” by Billy Joel as the evening’s special music, which led into the tradition of seniors delivering flowers to acknowledge appreciation to a special family member.

Stancliff introduced valedictorians Bryant Leaver and Molly Greaney, who each shared speeches.

Leaver focused on the relationships that the class of 2024 forged with teachers at Sisters High School during their four years and shared feedback he had gotten from the staff about the class.

“I think what is notable is the personal relationships we have built with the teachers,” he said. “I asked several teachers to describe the class of 2024 and one characteristic that every teacher said they saw in us was kindness. They have observed that we genuinely care about each other and have worked through differences to become a family.”

“From what I have observed the staff feels strongly about us as well,” he continued. “The incredible teachers we have are just as much a part of the class of 2024 as we are. The legacy we leave will be our kind hearts and our fun spirits. Seniors, I challenge you to take those characteristics into the next chapters in our lives and be thankful for those who help you along the way.”

In her speech, Molly Greaney defined community as “a safe, supportive environment where we build each other up and strive to help each other become the best versions of ourselves. Community is everywhere, but what makes community strong is each member’s commitment to being part of it.”

Greaney proceeded to recognize the sense of community beyond the walls of the school and into the ways the Sisters community as a whole supports students.

“Community can be found in the business owners who attend dance recitals and middle school concerts,” she said. It can be found in the 122 local scholarships awarded by GRO that invested in our futures. It can be found in the volunteers who come to the wood shop and on the IEE expeditions year after year, and even in those graduates who come back to teach in the school they graduated from.”

In her conclusion Greaney said, “I want to end with a piece of advice I received this year: Leave Sisters. Go out on your own. Meet people who have never heard of a quilt show and who know how to pump their own gas. Don’t be afraid to plunge into water as cold as the Metolius. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to pick up a new instrument or try building something. Don’t be afraid to grow your own food or cook a new meal. Don’t be afraid to wave as you pass someone you know on the road. Don’t be afraid to call home for advice. And finally, don’t be afraid to come back to Sisters.”

Prior to the presentation of diplomas, the traditional photo slideshow featuring baby pictures juxtaposed with senior portraits brought cheers, laughter, and a few tears.

Following the awarding of diplomas to each of the seniors, Greaney returned to the stage to declare, “I officially present to you the Sisters High School graduating class of 2024!”

Recessional music was queued, mortarboards flew to cheers of joy, and the happy graduates walked to the future with spring in their steps.


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