Big week for graduates starts next Tuesday with awards day; graduation on Friday evening

 - The Crook County High School 2017 graduates fling their mortar boards into the air at the end of the ceremony last year. This year, some new traditions will begin for local graduates.

Next week is a big deal for 191 local high school seniors.

The community will help these graduates celebrate in style – creating some new traditions along the way.

A total of 158 seniors will graduate from Crook County High School, and 33 students will graduate from Pioneer Alternative High School during a Friday, June 8 evening ceremony.

The festivities begin Tuesday, June 5 at 6:30 p.m. with senior awards night. The following day, the seniors will take a trip to Washington Family Ranch.

Several activities happen on Thursday, June 7, beginning with the senior breakfast at Club Pioneer. The district office staff, high school administrators and school board members will serve the senior class breakfast.

Last year, because of a scheduling conflict with younger students, board members ended up serving breakfast to the seniors.

"It was a tremendous opportunity for us to connect and serve with our students to the point where I think we ought to make it a regular tradition for the board to go and do that," board member Scott Cooper said. "I think it would be a nice tradition for us as a board to start engaging with that breakfast."

Board Chair Doug Smith says helping serve breakfast is an opportunity to visit with the seniors one last time.

"Being around the students is what makes the school board job enjoyable," he said.

After breakfast, seniors will have graduation rehearsal.

Next, comes another new tradition.

Seniors will slip into their blue caps and gowns and walk through the halls of Crooked River Elementary, Crook County Middle School and Barnes Butte Elementary.

"This will allow elementary and middle school students to see the accomplishments of our seniors and help us celebrate," said CCHS Principal Michelle Jonas. "Seeing our seniors in their caps and gowns will be a great experience for younger students to be part of the celebration and be able to look forward to the day that they will graduate."

This is the first time that local seniors have walked through the schools in their graduation gear. Jonas said they got the idea from another school district.

"We have been talking about this for a couple years, and we are excited to give it a try," Jonas said.

That evening, seniors will attend the baccalaureate ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, June 8 is the seniors' big day with graduation beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Ward Rhoden Stadium. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will move to the Crook County Fairgrounds indoor arena.

Also a new tradition, all five school board members will be on the stage to congratulate and shake hands with each graduate.

Traditionally, the board chairperson has handed out the diplomas with the superintendent.

"However, this board has worked with each other," Smith pointed out.

Smith handed diplomas to his youngest sons when they graduated, and Patti Norris allowed him to do it with one son when she was chair. He in turn has deferred to Cooper and Walt Wagner when they had connections with students. Other board members have children and grandchildren graduating in the next few years.

"In order to avoid 'missing out' on a very memorable opportunity, we will get the opportunity to have the entire board involved," Smith said. 

Cooper, who made the proposal at a recent board meeting, pointed out that board members are representatives of the community, and graduation is their largest event of the year.

"We kinda enjoy kids and are proud of our graduates," Smith added.

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