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Douglas High celebrates last day of school

by Merrie Leininger

Along with the usual high school graduation props like beach balls, and advice such as “be kind to one another,” the Douglas High School class of 1999 celebrated their last day of high school with blow-up dolls, light sabers and reminiscing about 80s popular culture.

Seven senior speakers came up to the podium to wish their fellow alumni farewell while someone in the crowd blew bubbles and tossed beach balls and a blow-up doll.

Before the speakers, the four valedictorians and three salutatorians were honored. Salutatorians were Katie Carlson, Taya Willden and Arwen Edsall and valedictorians were Heidi Alder, Phil Gorrindo, Rebecca Rippee and Julie Robison.

Speaker Grif Sahlin told the class it was time to grow up.

“We are grown up now. Whether you will be going to college or work or spending the next five years on your parent’s couch gaining weight, our lives will never be the same again,”he said. “We are no longer the group of 400 DHS students. While we worked hard to graduate, our work has only begun and we have to establish new goals.”

Julie Robison reflected on the “good old days.”

“We watched ‘He-man’ and ‘She-ra;’ played with Cabbage Patch dolls and Pogs; girls wore day-of-the-week underpants. Life was good,” she said.

She also had some advice for her classmates:

“Face reality. When that alarm goes off at 7:40 a.m., it’s not for high school – it’s called a job,” she said.

She ended her speech with a top 10 countdown of advice, some humorous and some serious.

Number seven was “Be a loyal American. Never forget what (American government teacher) Mr. Green taught you.”

Number three was “Be kind. In the end, it wasn’t if you were popular or got the grades or that varsity letter that mattered, it was if you stood up for someone who wasn’t all that cool.” she said. “If you gave blood or food to the Food Closet without expecting something in return, you graduate with honors.”

Jacob Kallman peppered his speech with cultural references, starting out by singing a popular Fatboy Slim song, “I’ve Got to Praise You Like I Should.”

“The class of 1999 – the class that puts the ‘ggrrr!’ back in swinger, baby!” he yelled, to the obvious pleasure of his classmates.

His message to his class was to keep their ideals and work for positive change.

“We will face some of the most tumultuous times we’ve ever seen, but we will have all these great people working for change and fighting ignorance,” Kallman said, drawing his light saber. “May the force be with you!”

Marcus Zinke had a quiet lesson for the group to ponder.

“Despite the contrasting clothes and hair we all bring to school, we all look similar today in our caps and gowns. I guess we are not so different after all,” he said.

Superintendent Pendery Clark presented the class of 1999.

“This is a truly exceptional class. I have great faith in their abilities to make the future a better place for all of us,” she said.