Mac High graduates mark best day
It marked the end of “some of the craziest, most tumultuous” four years of their lives, said student body president Nathan Lausmann, one of the school’s nine valedictorians.
He and other students entered their freshmen year nervous and unsure, he said. But they are leaving as strong, confident friends looking forward to the future.
“As leaders, we exit into the world well-prepared with the lessons we’ve learned here,” he said.
With 421 members, the Class of 2014 was the biggest so far in Mac High’s 104-year history, according to Principal Kris Olsen. In addition to nine valedictorians and 13 salutatorians, 57 students earned honors diplomas, 234 received career pathway endorsements, 97 wore honor chords signifying GPAs of 3.5 or higher and many also excelled in sports and community service, he said.
“This was quite a special year,” said Olsen, father of co-valedictorian Molly Olsen. “We’re all proud of you. It’s been a great experience for me to be part of your senior year, as a principal and a dad.”
The Class of 2014 earned 6,176 college credits while still in high school — an Oregon record. Some 120 members earned at least 24 credits, with Erik Rodriguez Sanchez topping the field at 80.
Erika Sato and Grant Rubado were named the outstanding girl and boy. Maggie Ng won the professional/technical award and Molly Olsen the academic excellence award.
In her valedictory address, Olsen said traditions helped bring the class together. She said members also started some of their own, such as the new unified sports teams and the recent all-school filming of a lip dub video for YouTube.
The video, to the song “Best Day of My Life,” features not just the Class of 2014, but the whole student body.
Every club, sport and activity is represented as the camera moves through the halls. It can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iLy-nOmHXo.
Traditions like that “make MHS such a special place that will stay with us forever,” she said.
Relatives and friends packed Wortman Stadium to hear the speeches and watch the Class of 2014 graduate.
Terry and Wilma Murray drove from Idaho to see their granddaughter, Jessica Henry, receive her diploma. Her grandma described her as “a nice girl, tall and good-looking.”
They were carrying a gift for her — a fancy pencil topped with a happy-face glitter ball. “We figured it’s a good way to remind her to write to us,” Wilma Murray said.
The ceremony brought back memories for Terry Murray, a member of the Class of 1961.
His was the first class to graduate from the building that forms the core of the current school. “It’s expanded a lot,” he noted.
Phyllis Wilbur of Palm Springs, Calif., returned to the area to see her granddaughter, Lacy-Lynn Wilbur, graduate.
Wilbur called her “a wonderful human being, kind and respectful.” She said her son had done a good job raising his daughters.
She said her granddaughter, due to start college in the fall, plans to go into teaching.
After a family party, Wilbur said, she and her granddaughter planned to drive the coast to L.A., then over to Palm Springs. They will spend the summer together there.
Shirley Sondenaa came to see family friend Dominique Burden walk across the stage.
Sondenaa said she’s watched Burden grow up, become a cheerleader and turn into someone who’s “beautiful inside and out.” She’s been encouraging Burden to go on to college.
Winda and William Billings brought flowers for their daughter, Bethany, described as “an outgoing, artistic, talented” young woman.
After graduation, the Billingses planned to celebrate with a quick dinner before the new graduates had to leave for their all-night party. After the summer break, they said, Bethany will start college at Chemeketa.
The Billingses and other relatives and friends joined the crowd in applauding numerous times for the Class of 2014. The applause began as graduates marched into the stadium in identical red robes.
Many students distinguished themselves from the crowd by decorating their mortarboards with flowers, flags, glitter, tiaras, animal print fabric or messages. One hat read, “4 years later...,” while another read, “Got R Done.” Yet another acknowledged the popularity of all things Harry Potter, proclaiming, “I’d rather be at Hogwarts.”
Despite their individuality, all members of the Class of 2014 share one thing, said speaker Robert Thomas, another of the valedictorians. “Forever we will be Grizzlies,” he said.
As they leave Mac High, he said, “This is the beginning of even bigger, brighter, more remarkable endeavors.”