Megan Elliott said she anxiously had waited to graduate from Kiona-Benton City High School since middle school.
The salutatorian kept track of all 2,340 days between the middle of sixth grade and the moment she’d be in a cap and gown.
“Then something happened in the time between middle school and senior year,” Megan said. “Time sped up and instead of dying for it, I began dreading it. Dreading the unknown.”
She and other student speakers acknowledged how important the close-knit nature of Benton City was to their education and support.
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Dakota Renz, student body president, spoke of how classmates and community members supported him through the years.
“I challenge anyone to name a community where the entire town comes together to provide potlucks, bingo nights and other various fundraisers for families struggling or have unfortunately lost a loved one,” he said.
Valedictorian Alexis Mercado said he didn’t speak English when he first showed up at Kiona-Benton City Elementary School but by fourth-grade he was fluent.
“In that same grade my teacher, Mrs. Adamson, told me that she thought that I could graduate high school at the top of my class and, well, now here I am,” he said.
But then it was time for childhood to be put aside and to receive their diplomas, or as Dakota put it, their tickets to adulthood. And while it may seem scary at first to head out into the world, Megan reminded her classmates and their family and friends, that that’s what graduation is all about.
“We, the Class of 2013, are not short of passion, we have the drive, the want to be successful at anything we choose to pursue,” she said. “Our families and teachers have always believed in us, we just need to believe in ourselves.”