In a sea of blue, graduates walked down the aisle at Thunder Mountain High School’s senior graduation Sunday.
Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich, president of the board of education Sally Saddler and TMHS principal Dan Larson looked on as co-valedictorians Ben Travers and Andrew Raney addressed their fellow soon-to-be graduates.
“I, like you, had to choose which school I would attend,” Travers said. “The first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the names of these schools was ‘Wow, Thunder Mountain, that’s a good name for a high school.”
Admittedly, he thought Juneau-Douglas was a better high school. He felt conflicted.
“If I learned anything from high school, if you have a problem, Google has the answer,” Travers said. “So I Googled the two schools and found out that Juneau-Douglas would take twice as long to drive to. Just like that, I was no longer conflicted.”
His hopes for next year and for his fellow students, were that they all remember their roots.
“I hope you remember we came from Thunder Mountain,” he said. “I hope this is something you’ll always be proud of. I know I will.”
Raney stood in front of his departing classmates and quelled the inevitable thought on everyone’s minds, hoping to put it to rest before it arose.
“It’s kinda cheesy, but I feel like someone needs to say it at some point today — all of you out there, go out and follow your dreams. There, I said it. Now no one else has to say it for the rest of the day,” Raney said to laughter. Per tradition, students chose their guest speaker, Jim Kearns, a teacher at TMHS, and welcomed him to the stage with a round of applause.
He likened their forthcoming graduation to that of an explorer’s journey, one filled with paths to choose and bridges to cross.
“He was standing on a hill with his hand covering his brow to shade it from the sun, and he was surveying the area around him. And he was picking out the best routes to the next hill, the next horizon,” Kearns said. “I’m going to take the opportunity to give you a little counsel about you picking the best route to your next horizon.” Kearns cautioned students to look back, not to forget, to be kind and have a positive attitude toward life.
In a teary proclamation, he added, “remember to look back, that you are capable. Dare to be kind. Dare to be charitable. Dare to be true.”