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Class of 2002 ready to take on the world

The cold weather did little to chill spirits at Henderson Stadium Friday night during graduation ceremonies for the Hood River Valley High School Class of 2002. Onlookers bundled in winter coats and huddled under blankets cheered the graduates as dark storm clouds threatened — but did not produce — rain and a blustery wind blew tassels and lifted mortar boards off the heads of some graduates.

Lindsey Sanguras and Teresa Ocampo welcomed the graduates and audience in English and Spanish. Sanguras used food as an analogy to the graduates’ past and future.

“For the past 13 years our flavors have been carefully chosen for us,” she said. “Starting tomorrow and for the rest of our lives, we must be prepared for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

“Life is full of desserts,” she added, “and Class of 2002, it’s time to dig in.”

The wind echoed in the microphone as the valedictorians were announced. Assistant superintendent Marcia LaDuke said, “Most of us would love to be in their shoes right now,” as she introduced the seven students: Lindsay Benjamin, David Brennan, Jessica Bryan, Oliver Burton, Kerry Hart, Jennine Page and Lindsey Sanguras.

Class speakers Nathan Armerding and Yecenia Martinez delivered eloquent speeches in English and Spanish.

Armerding said that Friday night marked “the beginning of what many of us have perceived life to be about,” while for others it brought only “greater uncertainty.”

He spoke about the “extensive changes” not only to HRVHS during the past year but also the “powerful economic and political changes” around the world. Armerding spoke directly of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and their effects on the Class of 2002 — both immediately afterward and in the future.

“Once-important concerns of day to day life seem trivial,” he said. “We’ve been forced to look at what’s truly important.”

He directed his fellow graduates not to be “controlled by paralyzing fear” as a result of terrorism.

“Let us find good to do and pursue it,” he said. He quoted from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right!”

“What if we have been born in a time to set things right?” Armerding asked.

“Our time is now,” he said.

The graduates and audience stood during the class song, “Stand With Us,” written by music director Mark Steighner. As the graduates filed across the stage to receive their diplomas, beach balls were kept aloft by students in the bleachers as if in defiance of the wintry weather. The evening concluded with the tassel ceremony and fireworks. Graduates lingered on the lawn even as parents and other onlookers scurried away to find shelter from the cold.

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