Marcus Larson / News-Register## Graduate Hallie Johnson waves the Senior 2019 flags as her classmates let their caps fly at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Marcus Larson / News-Register## Graduate Hallie Johnson waves the Senior 2019 flags as her classmates let their caps fly at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Marcus Larson / News-Register## McMinnville School Board member Carson Benner shares a hug with his son, Prescott, as the new graduate walks across the stage to receive his diploma.
Marcus Larson / News-Register## McMinnville School Board member Carson Benner shares a hug with his son, Prescott, as the new graduate walks across the stage to receive his diploma.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Graduating senior Delanie Crabtree adorns her mortarboard with origami cranes for McMinnville High School s Friday night graduation.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Graduating senior Delanie Crabtree adorns her mortarboard with origami cranes for McMinnville High School's Friday night graduation.
News-Register file photo##Mac High Principal Tony Viicknair will retire this month after many years with the McMinnville School District.
News-Register file photo##Mac High Principal Tony Viicknair will retire this month after many years with the McMinnville School District.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Mac High graduates 549 students, one principal

Updated.

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McMinnville High School honored 549 graduating seniors — and one principal — Friday night.

Wortman Stadium was packed for the commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2019. It was Mac High’s largest-ever graduating class in the 109 years the school has been awarding diplomas.

Although thunder showers had been forecast for Friday, periodic rain ended early in the day. By the time the faculty, school board and Class of 2019 marched into the stadium, blue sky was showing between puffy clouds and flags were waving briskly in the breeze.

A rainbow arched over the stadium halfway through the ceremony, just as graduating seniors joined the choir for one last song, “Africa.”

“I bless the rains down in Africa,” the chorus goes. “Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.”

At Mac High’s commencement, nary a drop of rain fell on the mortarboards, many of which were decorated with slogans or whimsical items — rubber duckies, flowers, glitter, a Batman logo, a tiny Eiffel tower, or, in Delanie Crabtree’s case, origami paper cranes.

Before students received their diplomas, student body president Tommy Douglass and vice president Eli Wiles stepped up to the microphone. They spoke fondly of Principal Tony Vicknair, who is retiring after three years as principal and many more as an assistant principal, curriculum director and teacher.

“He’s one of the biggest influences of my life,” Douglass said, saying he wants to emulate Vicknair’s kindness, grace and professionalism.

Vicknair thanked his students for honoring him, but focused his remarks on students’ accomplishments, rather than his own.

The Class of 2019 had 16 valedictorians and 28 salutatorians who achieved top grades.

Eighty students graduated with honors diplomas, and 370 earned career pathway endorsements, the most ever. And 152 had grades high enough to wear honor cords.

One-hundred-seventy-five earned at least 24 college credits prior to receiving their Mac High diplomas, he said. And five, including Outstanding Senior Boy Tristan Ferry, earned more than 70.

Abbi Rockwell was the Outstanding Senior Girl. Hallie Johnson received the pro/tech award, and Gabriel Walters the academic honor award.

Vicknair said members of the Class of 2019 showed character by persevering despite challenges, such as construction that disrupted their senior year. Despite having no gym in which to hold assemblies, activities and games, they coalesced as a senior class and had a successful year, he said.

“It was amazing to watch you grow,” the principal said. “I’m really proud of you. You’ll always be part of my family.”

As a family, they paused for a moment of silence to remember classmate Roberto Garcia Rivera, who died in a car wreck last September.

Later, while students crossed the stage one by one to receive their diplomas, thousands of parents, siblings and other supporters cheered.

Maria Sandoval applauded for her daughter, Mayra Sandoval, who sang with the choir in her red graduation robe and mortarboard.

Mayra was a senior student body representative and choir president this year.

“She’s very sweet and kind, noble and humble,” her mother said.

She’s very musical as well, according to her mother, father Ricardo and older brother Roy, a 2013 Mac High graduate. She plans to study music this fall at Portland State University.

First, though, Mayra has a performance scheduled for 4 to 7:30 pm. Saturday, June 15, at Willamette Valley Vineyards tasting room in downtown McMinnville. She will be joined by her friend and fellow 2019 graduate, Mallory Mead.

Another member of the commencement crowd, Brigit Wheelon, was there to cheer for her youngest child, Grace Wheelon.

Grace’s three older sisters and two older brothers were cheering, too.

“I’m very proud of Grace,” Mom said. “She’s the last of six, and she worked very hard to be an individual. She’s nurturing, she loves babies, she’s kind. She’s a sweetheart.”

Grace already has a job at a local care home. But she’ll take time off to attend a family party in her honor later this month, her mother said.

Four of the valedictorians — McKenna Carlson, Emily Cinnamon, Luis Cortes and Tristan Ferry — addressed their classmates and families during the ceremony.

They reminisced about their four years of high school and offered advice gleaned from their classmates and other sources ranging from Carl Sagan to “The Office” to Bill and Ted.

Carlson described entering Mac High as a freshman and new McMinnville resident. She was shy and quiet, and entering a new school wasn’t easy. But her years as part of the Class of 2019 shaped her life, she said.

Cinnamon noted how quickly the four years of high school have gone and how much her class had done in that time. Now the new graduates are heading off to individual futures, planned or unknown.

“It’s OK to be unsure and to hope for the best,” she said. “Every one of us has a place in this world.

“Don’t run from the unfamiliar; reach for it,” she continued.

Cortes, who spoke in both English and Spanish, discussed the value of hard work; the significance of working through obstacles, rather than letting them stop you; and the importance and satisfaction of giving back to your community.

“Now I ask, ‘How can I help?’” he said, “rather than ‘What can I get?’”

Ferry said he and his classmates grew up in difficult times,with issues such as climate change and violence. But he has hope for the future, he said, and he expects his generation to do its part to end scarcity, war, hate and divisiveness over skin color and other issues that wrongly separate us.

“There’s so much potential in the Class of 2019,” Ferry said.

“Create the world in which we want to live,” he advised his fellow graduates. “Be excellent to each other.”

 

Comments

Drew1951

Congratulations to all graduates. Whenever I hear people make negative remarks about education, I know they are not talking about McMinnville! Onward!