June 15, 2005
Cascade Locks valedictorian Rachel Hansen broke into tears as she bid farewell on Saturday to the Class of 2005.
She thanked each of her 15 peers for their friendship over the years, and issued one last word of advice.
“You are the authors of your story, be sure you write it the way that you want it to be,” said Hansen.
Salutatorian Erica Roberts also addressed the camaraderie between the classmates and urged them to “follow your hearts and your dreams.”
Both Hansen and Roberts were frequent visitors to the podium during the ceremony that drew a large crowd of community members to the gymnasium.
Hansen captured the following scholarships: Elks Student Citizen of the Month, $100, Elks Most Valuable Student Competition Participant Award, $100; Hood River Lions Kevin White/Patti Simpson Memorial, $1,000; Soroptimists Violet Richardson Award, $500; Mt. Hood Community College Foundation Scholarship, $2,835; and Hood River Rotary, $1,500.
Roberts netted a full-ride scholarship for four years from Eastern Oregon University. She was also the recipient of: Elks Student Citizen of the Month, $100, Hood River Lions Kevin White/Patti Simpson Memorial, $1,000; and Columbia Gorge Lions and Lionesses, $1,000.
Also receiving scholarships from the senior class were Dana Stull and Jessica Bennett. Stull was awarded $2,500 for each of four academic years at Cascade College, plus another $1,000 each semester to play basketball. Bennett was given the $500 Cascade Locks Alumni Vocational Scholarship and a $2,835 tuition waiver from Mt. Hood Community College.
The commencement exercise took slightly less than one hour since the invited guest speaker, Carla Zumwalt, was unable to attend. Zumwalt, a former teacher in Cascade Locks, now resides in Idaho and had a last-minute scheduling conflict with a required training course.
The graduates didn’t seem to feel any loss from the lack of a formal speech during their last moments together. They appeared happy just to share time with each other and be honored by a packed gymnasium of family, friends and community members.
Senior Class President Jessica Bennett summed up the mood of the day with her opening remarks to the audience. She said, “Each of us has developed our own personality and we always seem to get along for the most part.”
Bennett spoke about the lifelong friendships that had been forged among many of the seniors, especially those who had grown up together. She said it was likely that the classmates would remain close even though separated by time and years.
“The day is done but its memories are ours to keep forever,” she said.
Tears and laughter were shared by the graduates as they watched a senior video of their past antics. Both hilarious and sentimental moments were portrayed in the footage of sports, school dances and other activities. The seniors huddled together to catch a last glimpse of the childhood they were leaving behind.
They ended the ceremony by giving a “high five” and farewell hugs to two school officials who were departing with them. Librarian Kay Strong, the longtime senior adviser, is retiring after 30 years in a varied career that started as a classroom aide and concluded as the instructor of many subjects. Strong will work as the Hood River County School District librarian until Dec. 31 — and officially enter retirement the next day.
Also leaving Cascade Locks is Joyce FitzSimmons, a school counselor for 21 years. She is tackling a new venture by opening the Book Peddler store in White Salmon.
The community wished the departing students and educators well by giving them a standing ovation and rousing applause.