By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Dayton graduates 'awesome' class

Marcus Larson / News-RegiserLed by class president Luke Wildhaber, Dayton graduates toss their caps at the end of graduation.
Marcus Larson / News-Regiser
Led by class president Luke Wildhaber, Dayton graduates toss their caps at the end of graduation.

From Alyssa Mae Anderson to Luke Peter Wildhaber, members of the Class of 2013 were excited and proud to make it to graduation day.

Earlier, as she had prepared to don her cap and gown, Alyssa said she was nervous.

“This is a big event,” she said. “It only happens once. I just hope I don’t trip.”

She didn’t. The ceremony unfolded perfectly under a clear blue sky.

It was a wonderful send-off. But Alyssa, like her classmates, will miss her friends and the teachers at Dayton High.

“They’re all really nice,” she said. She especially enjoyed classes with English teacher Janelle Jackson, she said.

While many members of the Dayton High Class of 2013 are heading straight to college, Alyssa plans to put off her studies for a while. She plans to work for Excell Fitness for the time being, then return to school to become a pharmacist.

Alyssa’s parents, Laveda and Dave Anderson, were among the hundreds of relatives and friends who attended Saturday’s commencement. Another family group, which included mom Christina Stone and great-aunt Marlene Henley, found good seats in the stadium so they could watch Tanner Stone receive his diploma.

“My son’s a really good kid, very quiet,” Stone said. He was in student government, served as an officer in FFA and attended the national FFA convention. He also was the May student of the month.

Tanner is the first of her three children to graduate, she said.

“It’s kind of shocking to be here,” she said, laughing. “He’s my baby! I’m not ready to let him go yet.”

She won’t have to, as it turns out. Tanner is planning to live at home while starting studies in criminal justice at Chemeketa.

Before Tanner, Alyssa and the other graduates received their diplomas, three members of the class addressed the crowd.

Luke Wildhaber, class president and salutatorian, welcomed the crowd to the commencement of a group of “strong, intelligent individuals” who always manage to have fun, “an extremely awesome class.”

He acknowledged that he and his classmates will face adversity in the future, but advised them not to shy away or become bitter over disappointments. “Go out and dream big, Class of 2013,” said Luke, who will spend the next year serving as Oregon FFA president before continuing his education.

Co-valedictorian Julianne Benson said being in the Class of 2013 has been a blessing.

Many of the students have been together all through school, she said, and that’s created a family atmosphere. They will continue to support and inspire each other as they go off on their separate life journeys.

The other valedictorian, Emily Benham, advised her classmates to continue learning and growing, even though high school is over. “Be teachable,” she said. “Look for new experiences and opportunities.”

Social studies teacher Leonard McKenzie, chosen by the class as the keynote speaker, recalled meeting the students as freshmen in a new course designed to help them transition from middle school to high school.

They moaned and groaned and even invoked the pending Mayan apocalypse as reasons for not taking the class seriously, he said. Yet, he said, they made it to graduation with flying colors — even Davis Kitchens, who’d thought of the Mayan excuse.

McKenzie said the Class of 2013 was very cohesive, but still “a fierce group of individuals and competitors” who are “destined to accomplish great things.”

Continuing a Dayton tradition, the Class of 2013 honored members of the Class of 1963, who are celebrating their golden anniversary of graduating from Dayton High.

Superintendent Janelle Beers announced the Dayton Education Citizen of the Year. Greg Wildhaber became the 49th person to receive the award.

Wildhaber has been volunteering with educational programs since before his children were in school.

He has been especially active with FFA, coaching members of the ag sales team and helping them gain real-life experience in their chosen field. He also chairs the Yamhill County Fair’s livestock auction, at which many FFA students sell their project animals.

Beers said, “He brings positive energy to students, He sees the potential in people ... and always allows the focus to be on them.”

Out-of-town relatives of one graduate — about the same age as she is — expressed surprise at the small size of the Class of 2013. Their school was much, much bigger, the young men said.

But as the ceremony unfolded, they were impressed. “Everyone knows everyone,” one of them marveled.

Members of the Dayton High School Class of 2013 are:

Alyssa Mae Anderson, Tosh Michael Baker, Seabastian Robert Bateman, Emily Grace Benham, Julianne Marie Benson, Nathan Thomas Bernards, Gabriel Matthew Blanco, Hannah Campos, Samantha Marie Cave, Hao Chen, Jamie Katharine Chenea, Karli Day Colins, Carlos Alfredo Corona,

Kristin Nicole Dillard, Taylor David England, Stormi James Malakyte Frazey, Forrest Lynn Garcia, Michael Douglas Gentry, Claire May Hammond, Emilee Taylor Helvie, Natasha Hougham-Everett, Danielle Christine Huber, Katrina Elizabeth Irvin, Britney Ann-Nicole Jenkins, Yadira Jimenez,

Jonathan James Jones, Anna Crosby Kameshima, Samantha Kay Kesler, Davis Andrew Kitchens, Kodee Isaak Koch, Hakon Larson, Justin Allen Lynch, Carly Doris Martin, Leeanna Rose McCollum, Kylie Ann Hadley Milner, Jony Miramontes, Lucero Morales, Giselle Naranjo-Cruz,

Lexah Rhyann Oliveira, Katelyn Elizabeth Prendergast, Mario Lous Puello, Raul Martin Rodriguez, Jaycie Marie Sedivec, Erin Mika Shields, Andrew Mark Sinsel, Tanner James Stone, Justin Scott Sutton, Paige Elyse Glenn Van Noy, Jered Call White, Luke Peter Wildhaber.

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