21 seniors receive their diplomas during commencement ceremony Saturday

The 2014 St. Paul High School graduating class elicited a chuckle from the crowd during Saturday’s graduation ceremony when they all pulled out their phones and took a selfie.

From taking selfies to playing a Star Wars themed recessional march, the Class of 2014 put their own unique spin on St. Paul High School’s graduation ceremony. Hundreds of family and friends packed the high school gym Saturday afternoon to watch the 21 graduating seniors receive their diplomas. The high-achieving class included three valedictorians — Max Coleman, Kennedy Smith and Jessica Wilmes — who all achieved a 4.0 grade-point average, and two salutatorians — Sara Pierson and Delaney Sump — who only missed the top mark by a single “B.”

With a small class at a small school, these students saw each other every day, both in the classroom and on the field or court. Many of them have known each other since kindergarten. by: GARY ALLEN - SPHS - Master of Ceremonies Austin Burleson presides over St. Paul High School's commencement ceremony Saturday before a crowd that packed the school's gymnasium.

“Everyone’s so laid back because we’ve known each other for such a long time. And we all push each other too — which is really good,” Smith said. “We all really want to learn.”

Smith plans to attend Oregon State University this fall and study engineering.

“I’m going to miss really knowing the people in my class and having a really good long-standing relationship with them,” Coleman said. He plans to attend University of Puget Sound and major in either chemistry or chemical engineering.

Wilmes plans to attend Gonzaga University and ultimately wants to become a labor and delivery nurse.

“I’m really excited to start that actual part of what I want to be,” she said.

The three valedictorians addressed the crowd in a joint speech giving the audience a glimpse of what it is like being a student at St. Paul High School while also defining the class’s values of pride, purpose and integrity.

The senior class amassed an impressive amount of awards and scholarships totaling more than $217,000.

The afternoon was full of sentiment, especially during the traditional class slide show flashing chubby, doe-eyed baby pictures followed by senior portraits of each graduate. The sentiment continued when the entire crowd rose in a standing ovation as SPH principal Wes Owens presented teacher Jeff Hulbert with an award for his 11 years of service. This is Hulbert’s last year at SPHS as he and his family are moving to Colorado.

“In my 22 years in education, this has probably been one of the most rewarding years that I have had as an educator,” Owens said. “In regards to the collective accomplishments that they have done in the classroom and on the athletic field, this class is truly an exceptional class. I will remember them as one of the finest senior classes that I’ve been around.”

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