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Graduation 2000: DHS senior speakers give good advice

by Merrie Leininger

They’re the class of 2000 and we’ve been hearing about them for a long time.

At Friday’s graduation ceremony, many of the speakers ensured the audience that they were indeed as special as we had heard.

“This truly is an exceptional group. They are friendly, they are happy and they have studied very, very hard. All these students met the high standards we expect in our school district,” said Principal Bev Jeans.

The students themselves made a statement of their individuality by accessorizing their plain black gowns with everything from flower leis to feather boas and orange socks and shoes. Some students drew flames and tiger paw prints on their gowns with glitter paint. One girl even wore a pair of black feather wings.

Six students were chosen from the 17 who auditioned to speak at the ceremony. Even in their speeches, they expressed their individual talents.

Mary Zimmerman reminded her peers to take advantage of opportunities that will soon come their way.

“Do not be afraid to follow your heart and dreams. Know you have a decision in the path you chose. The one that seems the smoothest may be the one that leads to a cliff,” Zimmerman said.

Alicia Burns impressed listeners with her musical talent by playing guitar and singing a song she dedicated to the class of 2000, but first she had to acknowledge a special person.

“Hi, Mom,” she said with a smile.

Jennifer Allen walked up to the mike with a bit of humor.

“OK, first thing, I want a big smile,” she said as she snapped a picture of the audience.

She asked her classmates to remember those people who are closest to them now.

“The most important people are your family. Family doesn’t have to be people related to you,” Allen said. “Many of my bad days ended up great because of teachers who have ended up my family.”

Before the ceremony, Brian Deem, 18, who has attended Douglas schools all his life, said he would always remember his English teacher, Mike Schneider.

“He taught me a lot more than just English. He taught me lessons in life. If you went into his class a kid, you left an adult,” Deem said.

Sili Mafua, 18, said he will take away a lot of good friendships from DHS.

“I made tons of good friends here. All the people here are nice,” Mafua said.

Josh Himmelrick, 17, said his football coach, Ernie Monfiletto, really affected his life.

“He helped me choose which college to go to. I’m thankful for that. I never could have done it by myself,” he said. “He helped me decide and talked to the college coaches.” Himmelrick said he will be going to Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif., and will be playing football there.

Katie Nash, 17, said she learned how to keep true to herself in high school.

“When I deal with people, I try not to worry about what they think. Everyone has their own group. I learned to go with the flow – it’s easier and a lot more fun that way,” she said.

Donna Tholl was making her way onto the football field to see her only son, Matthew graduate.

“I’m excited. He finally made it,” she said. Tholl gave her son some important advice before the ceremony. “I told him not to trip.”

Mary and Mike Jarrett were happy they could see their son, Jason, collect his diploma, especially after a scary pole-vaulting accident this spring.

“He’s very lucky, and we’re very lucky – he’s everything a young son should be. I’m not going to cry. He’s just a good kid,” Mary said.

Allison Smith was a little teary-eyed thinking about her son, Jason.

“I left my Kleenex at home. I didn’t think I would need it. He’s a good kid. I don’t think I’m ready for him to go,” she said.