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They tossed their hats and the quintessential beach ball. They listened to community members, adults and peers exhorting them to dream, to write down their goals and to risk ridicule and failure to achieve them, to see the value of their own lives and to be safe. They walked across the stage to collect their diploma in blue robes paired with heels, flip flops and sneakers.
The 49 graduating members of the Thunder Mountain High School class of 2010 will forever be unique. A silver stole they wore read "TMHS 1st," marking them as the school's first-ever graduates.
TMHS Principal Patti Bippus called the school's first graduation "marvelous."
"It's a monumental event for Juneau," she said. "They took kind of a daring risk to come here, knowing that they would be the first graduating class."
Bippus also pointed out that this class is unusual in that when its members arrived at Thunder Mountain as juniors for the 2008-09 school year, they had no seniors to look to as role models, and had to begin to establish their own traditions.
"It's a great experience to be in the first class," said graduate Jonathan Murphy. "The road is paved for future generations to come."
"It's pretty cool," said Torey Franzen. "It's kind of weird being the guinea pigs. We're all really close because it's such a small school."
"We're the only ones who can say we're the first," said Amanda Gardner. "It really fits our class, because we're unique."
With almost 300 graduating seniors, the ceremony for the graduating class at Juneau-Douglas High School was a lot more crowded. But the community is still "small and close-knit," as described by graduate and speaker Linsey Tomaro.
"This is the greatest class ever, because you don't have to be good at something to be noticed here. You just have to be yourself," said JDHS graduate and speaker Nick Rutecki.
JDHS graduate Aaron Cohen said the last four years had been "awesome."
"I never really felt like a senior until just now," he said.