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Last year, there were doves.

This year, there were doves and beetles. Rather, The Beatles.

Midway through the Thursday, May 24, commencement ceremony for Sedona Red Rock High School and Juniper Canyon, graduating seniors Katy Potter and Katie Fowler stood side by side and sang The Beatles’ “Hey, Jude.”

By Nate Hansen
Larson Newspapers
________________

Last year, there were doves.

This year, there were doves and beetles. Rather, The Beatles.

Midway through the Thursday, May 24, commencement ceremony for Sedona Red Rock High School and Juniper Canyon, graduating seniors Katy Potter and Katie Fowler stood side by side and sang The Beatles’ “Hey, Jude.”

The duet took place during graduation’s traditional Rose Ceremony, where graduates removed single roses from bundles sitting beneath their chairs and entered the crowd of onlookers, offering them to family and friends whom they owed respect for love and years of support.

As seniors’ bouquets became smaller, the lyrics became more evident.

“Take a sad song, and make it better” evoked tears from some, whereas the repetitive choral ending offered an impromptu class sing-along and final embrace with fellow students on stage.

Minutes prior to the senior serenade, the more than 100 graduates donning purple and silver cap and gowns approached the high school football field two by two, then sat themselves in front of Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent Kim Randall, SRRHS Principal Russ Snider and other representatives making up staff and faculty of both educational institutions.

Some students looked nervous during the long-awaited ending. Others turned around in their seats excitedly, looking for family and friends in the audience.

All were poised and ready for the next step in their lives.

Snider, who recently retired from school administration, addressed the graduating students briefly.

Aside from monetary gifts, scholarships, a trip or a car they may receive as graduation presents, he said he could only offer advice.

“Be nice,” Snider said, simply.

Being fair, firm but friendly were recommendations he regularly gave his faculty, he said.

“Nice is the toughest four-letter word you’ll ever know,” he ended.

Proving Snider’s own power of nice, he hid an envelope with $25 under one of the graduates’ chairs.

Seniors felt for the surprise, but it was Katy Potter who was the random winner.

The power of nice, as advised by Snider, was to take a family member or friend out for breakfast.

“Heck yeah,” Potter agreed.

Snider’s last words of gratitude toward staff and students left people standing with applause, a well-deserved ovation and exit.

Moments later, Snider returned center stage where students who grew up during his tenure from kindergarten on, self-proclaimed “The Kinders,” presented him with a gift.

“This is for your first day off being footloose and fancy-free,” senior Taylor Wolfe smiled, handing over a pair of flip-flops.

English teacher Greg Anderson was honored to speak to the graduates, also offering advice and familiar quotes.

He told the class they could never truly escape their past, as it was their past that made them who they are today.

For tomorrow, he advised them to reinvent themselves and look upon the world with “new eyes.”

“I am part of all that I’ve met,” Anderson quoted Lord Alfred Tennyson, appropriately.

Before Anderson left the stage, he reached back to a set of lyrics reminiscent to his days of youth.

“Faring thee well now. Let your life proceed by its own design,” he repeated from The Grateful Dead’s “Cassidy.” “Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I’m done with mine.”

During the ceremony, SRRHS valedictorians Nick Reynolds, Indra Ekmanis, Daniel Juda, Kerianne Okie, Max Weaver and Thomas Moore shared parts of a quote by footballer David Beckham.

Between each section, they offered their own words of wisdom.

“Without dreams, the world would be set on pause,” Reynolds said.

“We were the future. Now we’re the present,” Okie added.

Later, Randall announced the acceptance of the graduating class of 2007, adding each student met the set requirements of the state of Arizona and governing board for the Sedona-Oak Creek School District.

Most importantly to the graduates, they received the diplomas, turned their tassels, tossed their caps and gazed over fireworks and a big screen slide show of school days gone by.

They graduated.

Guest speaker NORAZ Executive Director Christopher Lane refrained from using a metaphor before the introduction to the traditional rose ceremony, but those in attendance found it suiting.

Yes, along the stem path toward a bloom’s end, thorns represent the difficult times.

And yes, raindrops and sunlight, good and bad, created the fullest bloom.

The graduates are single flowers in a perpetual garden, whether they root themselves in college, work, the armed forces or their parents’ basements.

Coincidentally, the wisest to any flower’s care is advice similar to Snider’s own.

“Be nice.”

 


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