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Graduation day

Sandy High School says goodbye to the Class of 2016 at commencement


There are many lessons to learn in high school.

But it turns out that there was one final bit of wisdom that the Sandy High School graduating class of 2016 needed to heed: Be careful what you do with your mortarboard.

That sage bit of advice was delivered as part of the pre-graduation prep all seniors attended prior to their evening commencement ceremony on Friday, June 3, at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin.

“They said, ‘Throw your hat at your own risk,’” recalled graduate William Ramstad, who is planning to attend Portland Community College next fall.POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Sandy High School Class of 2016 graduates throw their caps in celebration Friday night at Rolling Hills Church in Tualatin.

But for many graduates, such concerns were secondary to the thrill of celebrating their success with the traditional cap toss at the ceremony’s conclusion.

And the celebrations didn’t stop there: While some graduates donned the sashes and cords used to designate their academic honors, vocational clubs or school organizations, still others wore bright leis or stylish sunglasses to show their high spirits. Thumbs-up, fist-pumps and No. 1 signs all made an appearance, too, as graduates took their turns crossing the stage to collect their diplomas.

School Principal Kim Ball delivered a speech encouraging graduates to overcome the fear that can be the obstacle to their success. Oregon Trail School District Superintendent Aaron Bayer reminded the class of 2016 of their milestones to date and challenged them to achieve even greater things. School Board member Terry Lenchitsky urged the grads to remember the lessons and advice of their parents as they moved on from high school.

Prior to the commencement, graduates hugged family and friends, snapped selfies on their cellphones and chatted about summer and future plans.

William and graduate Bianca Blanshine said they were excited, but also a little anxious, about leaving high school. The two have known each other since elementary school in Welches, and Bianca is best friends with William’s twin sister. Bianca will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.

“We’re all going to be split up next year,” said Bianca, who was named the SHS Most Outstanding Senior during the commencement ceremony. “Which is going to be a really weird experience for us.”

William added, “It’s kind of bittersweet.”

SHS grad Taylor Courtain admitted she had no such reservations. She plans to attend Oregon State University and major in biology.

“I’m ready to get out into the world and be independent,” Taylor said.

Her mom, Jeni Courtain, said she was ready, too. Well, sort of.

“Yes. And no,” Courtain explained. “I’m a little nervous for her to be out on her own. But very proud.”

Devin Gilbert was wrestling with his own nerves prior to the commencement ceremony. Like Taylor, he was looking forward to getting his diploma. However, the thought of walking across the stage in front of a crowd of hundreds had him feeling a bit stressed. What if he tripped? Or if his cellphone rang?

“I’m really good at messing up. I’m a pro at it,” Devin said. “I don’t want to do something stupid while my parents are here.”

Devin’s friend Tanner Weller said he also was eager to take home his diploma.

“It’s been a journey. I’m just glad it’s over,” Tanner said. “I’m ready to move on to the next stage.”