June 08--Graduation is a time of mixed emotions for seniors leaving the comforts of a familiar life for a new chapter of opportunities and unknowns.
That is the way several Clarkston High School seniors described their feelings shortly before receiving diplomas at Adams Field Saturday evening.
"I'm just nervous and excited," said Jaidon Doherty. "It's hard losing a lot of friends. I'm staying here in town, and a lot of friends are leaving."
She plans to attend Lewis-Clark State College in the spring and work toward a degree in business administration that she hopes to use to open a music venue. She said she has a passion for live music and has made mental notes about the places she has seen different bands. She wants to take bits and pieces she likes from each spot and one day incorporate them into her own place.
Her friend Matthew Chambers, the popular class clown, is pushing any anxieties about the future aside and working on a short-term objective.
"Right now my goal is to make my bank account have bigger numbers," he said.
But as he looked around at his fellow graduates, he said he can still picture them as young grade-schoolers.
"They are all so big and adulty now," he said.
Chambers plans to attend Walla Walla Community College at Clarkston.
Twins Kimmy and Kasie Henriod were nervous about the immediate future. Although the sisters plan to attend Brigham Young University in the fall, the co-salutatorians were preparing for the more immediate challenge of speaking to the class of 154 graduates and the family and friends gathered to watch.
"I'm really not a public speaker," Kimmy Henriod said.
She said preparing to walk was a strange feeling.
"It's exciting and it feels kind of weird knowing we are not coming back to school next year."
Kasie Henriod said she was reflecting on hanging on with friends, her sister and the good times they have had.
They will have each other to lean on when they start school in the fall, a familiar feeling for the sisters.
"We are pretty much each other's motivator for doing our best in school and we help each other on subjects maybe the other doesn't know as well," Kimmy Henriod said.
Graduating from Clarkston High was a different experience for exchange student Nicolaj Olsen, a foreign exchange student from Slangerup, Denmark. As a senior exchange student, he technically graduated from high school in his home country last year. But he said American graduations are a much more festive affair.
"It's not as big of a ceremony," he said of Danish graduations. "I've been looking forward to this the whole year. It's a new experience."
He will reluctantly be returning home.
"I love it here," he said. "I wish I could stay."
Trevor Epler breezed through high school. He graduated in three years with a 4.0 grade point average by taking college level classes at Walla Walla Community College and will attend Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla. where he plans to study programing.
Of finishing early he said "It's kind of nice. The idea was to get out a year early and go to the school I want to go to."
The seniors soon lined up and walked onto the schools football field, where they were congratulated and praised by teachers and staff. English teacher Paige Frazier was voted by the seniors to deliver the keynote speech. She told the students and soon to be graduates to strive for excellence in whatever they choose to do with their lives.
"You can all be in your own hall of fame," she said.
A few speeches later, they were pronounced graduates and gathered in a circle, tossed their mortar boards in the air, and after taking pictures with family and friends, walked off the field and toward the rest of their lives.
Barker may be contacted at email@example.com or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.
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