River View High senior Abi Hamlin could not come to graduation Friday night in Finley.
She’s in Seattle preparing for a bone marrow transplant to treat a recurrence of acute myelogenous leukemia, but her presence was felt throughout the ceremony.
Valedictorian Jessica Sems started her speech with a message from Hamlin: Never take life for granted and be patient.
In the traditional River View slide show with baby photos followed by senior pictures, there was Hamlin, a curly-headed toddler and then a grinning student with no hair left. The crowd cheered.
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The class of 59 graduates had fun at graduation just as it had during the school year.
“How many party rockers are in the house tonight and how many are ready to have a good time?” asked co-salutatorian Kodie Ginder-Mill.
“As a class we have seen two centuries, two millennia and three decades, just since we started kindergarten,” said co-salutatorian Lauren Riley.
And Garrett McComas, picked by the class to speak, remembered impromptu “grown man Mondays” with many of the boys showing up wearing ties. It was followed by the more popular “tank top Tuesdays” with a gun show in the hall not always appreciated by the staff in charge of dress code, he said.
The class went out with a bang, excelling in both academics and sports, Sims said.
And the ceremony ended with a bang too — red and black balloons fell from the ceiling to be popped beneath the feet of students.