Madras, Culver graduate most ever
School District 509-J graduated a record number of students this year —187, including 137 from Madras High School, 44 from Bridges High School and six from Heart of Oregon.
Adding in the 41 students who graduated from Culver High School, the county total of 228 graduates surpassed the previous high of 225 in 2008.
Last year, 509-J had a total of 166, and Culver had 43, for a combined total of 209.
The Madras High School football stadium bleachers were packed with family and friends for the 90-minute ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. on June 2.
English teacher Justin McCormack, who was selected by students as the faculty speaker, told students that teaching is an act of love. "We are all here to guide you to adulthood," he said.
"If you want to live a happy and fulfilling life, you can't hold anything back," he advised them. "You are worthy of love, respect and happiness."
Hannah Sjolund and Jake Frank were the student speakers.
Frank spoke about heroes and superheroes — "those people who always seemed to be there for us."
"Whatever path we choose, we will be the superheroes," he said, noting that they are "the next line of adults to make the changes we need in this world. Be better. Do better than you did yesterday; be better than you thought you could be today."
Bridges Principal Brian Crook said that there were 40 Bridges graduates walking at graduation. "Eighty-seven percent are graduating today, and 74 percent have graduated in four years," he said. "We are so very proud."
Presenting the diplomas were Superintendent Ken Parshall, and board members Laurie Danzuka, Courtney Snead and Jamie Hurd.
Class valedictorian was T. Nathan Stovall and salutatorian, Kyle Hartman. The class song was "Best Day of My Life," by American Authors, and class motto was a quote by Walt Disney: "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
The Culver High School graduation was held in the air-conditioned CHS gymnasium at noon on June 2.
The principal address was given by CHS Principal Brad Kudlac, and the commencement address by graduating senior Jose Navarro.
The class had three valedictorians — Edwin Gutierrez Vargas, Cole Little and Margie Beeler — who gave the valedictorian address, and three salutatorians — Jorge Olivera, Emily McDonald and Jerron Rhen — who gave the salutatorian address.
Superintendent Stefanie Garber presented the class, with Culver High School Vice Principal Josh Davis and the Culver School District Board of Directors — Chairman Mike Knepp, Scott Leeper, Dave Slaght, Zoe Schumacher and Robert Buckner — presenting the diplomas.
"You're off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way," by Dr. Seuss, was the class motto.