Superintendent Rom Castilleja said he remembered addressing the Kiona Benton-City High School class of 2012 when they graduated the eighth-grade in 2008.
That same year, the high school’s graduating class of 2008 was offered roughly $275,000 in scholarships to pursue higher education.
“I challenged them to do better,” he said.
This year’s graduates rose to that challenge, earning $362,000 in scholarships, not including students who qualified for a College Bound scholarship, which covers tuition and some expenses for low-income students.
Valedictorian Emily Leist said this year’s graduating seniors were like dandelions, springing up with colorful blooms where you’d least expect but eventually moving on to other pastures.
“By being part of the wind, we allow ourselves to be part of bigger and better things,” she said.
Salutatorian Delaney Rader spoke of how the members of the class would perhaps never meet again but would still be able to stay in touch and see each other grow through social media. Salutatorian Brooklyn Hirschi said that each graduate was liable to make mistakes but that what mattered was that each graduate stay in the game.
The seniors weren’t the only ones honored Saturday. Teacher Ken Jones, who is retiring after 42 years in the classroom, was recognized by Principal Wayne Barrett who said Jones told him how he wanted to have his retirement celebrated.
“He said to just call a staff meeting and I won’t be there,” Barrett said.