By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac High graduates 103rd class

Marcus Larson / News-RegisterMac High seniors enter the stadium for graduation.
Marcus Larson / News-Register
Mac High seniors enter the stadium for graduation.
Marcus Larson / News-RegisterSome seniors decorated their mortarboards so they d stand out in the red-robed crowd.
Marcus Larson / News-Register
Some seniors decorated their mortarboards so they'd stand out in the red-robed crowd.

Family members and friends filled Wortman Stadium to honor the school’s 103rd graduating class. They stood as seniors marched, two by two, past a receiving line of teachers and other staff members.

Isamar Chavez had been looking forward to commencement. An honor student, she’s the first in her family to graduate.

She said she’s leaving Mac High with good memories: being elected Homecoming queen; spending time with wonderful, supportive friends; performing on the dance team. She’s had great teachers, such as English teacher Kerrie Savage and drama teacher Bethany Mason, she said, and that’s inspired her to study education.

She’ll start at Chemeketa Community College, since her good grades qualified her for free tuition, then transfer to Western Oregon University.

Nick Saurer also had been looking forward to Friday night. He said he was eager to “finally get a break” from school.

He started high school in the Media Arts and Communications Academy, and continued at Mac High after MACA became part of the main campus.

He credited his parents with making sure he received his diploma. “They supported me when I felt like no one else cared,” he said.

Saurer is headed to WOU, but is not sure what he’ll study.

As Nick and Isamar and their classmates took their seats, Principal Kris Olsen complimented the class for its academic skills and other achievements. He said members have received about $6.5 million in scholarships, grants and other awards to help them continue their education.

Eleven valedictorians had perfect grades, and 18 salutatorians either had only one B or had enough advanced placement credits to compensate. Fifty-four received honors diplomas and 101 qualified for gold honor chords by maintaining grades of 3.5 or better.

The class earned 351 career pathway endorsements and 6,260 college credits during four years of high school. One-hundred -thirteen members earned 24 or more college credits each, meaning they will have a substantial jump on college and save a great deal of money, as well.

Forty-seven members of the Class of 2013 were OSAA scholar-athletes, another 24 earned scholar-activity awards and 27 were all-league or all-state, the principal said. Class members performed all sorts of community service, including taking part in the Doernbecher Club’s Mr. Mac High contest, which raised $30,000 this year for the children’s hospital.

The Symphonic Band and Symphonic Choir performed during the ceremony. Olsen noted that both groups were chosen to perform at state music competitions this spring.

“Everyone here is very, very proud of you and what you’re accomplished,” the principal told the Class of 2013. “Have a successful future.”

Four of the valedictorians spoke.

Matt Desmond and Erica Johnson gave a humorous talk that included words of wisdom garnered from Dove candy wrappers. “Success is getting what your want; happiness is wanting what you get,” and “You’re gorgeous!”

Seriously, they told their classmates, respect yourselves and others.

“Create your own path,” Erica said. And Matt added, “Don’t preemptively judge others.”

Eliza Hallett, tapped as outstanding girl, reflected on the strong bonds between members of the Class of 2013. “Tonight we celebrate our individuality and cohesiveness,” she said.

In their many years together, she said, the classmates have built  friendships that will last a lifetime. “We’re all here for one another and always will be,” she said.

Martin Cortes-Perez, the boy of the year, told the crowd how his family, teachers and peers helped him get his priorities straight. He said he’d made mistakes and did things in an attempt to fit in, but said, “Thankfully, many great people were there to pick me up and help.”

In his early years of high school, he said, he wanted to prepare for a career that would be lucrative. Then teacher Don Witten helped him understand that money was not the most important thing.

He said he concluded, “Doing what I enjoy would be worth more than money.” He found that community service and doing for others were intrinsically rewarding.

Cortes, who learned English after moving to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 12, delivered his speech in both English and Spanish.

He acknowledged his parents for sacrificing in order to make a better life for him and his brothers. When he asked his parents to stand, the crowd applauded and his entire graduating class rose to join him in giving them a standing ovation.

After the speeches, Witten, who is retiring this year, was the first teacher to take a turn at reading the names of graduates.

He thanked the school district, “parents for sending me your children and class for inspiring me.”

And then, starting with student body president Jack Anderson, 2013 graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas.

Penn Sumner, vice president, was the second to cross the stage.

He said he’s loved being in high school with friends he’s known since third grade. He’s sure they will stay in touch -- by social media and in-person visits — as they go their separate ways.

Penn said he plans to have fun this summer  as he prepares for college. He’ll start political science classes at Gonzaga University in the fall.

“I’m just going to spend time with friends and take a few vacations with my family,” he said. He and his dad plan to go back-country backpacking in Yellowstone National Park, as well.

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