Sandals, tennis shoes, flip-flops, high heels, black dress shoes and a wheelchair paraded across the stage Friday at Chief Joseph Middle School as the class of 2012 from River’s Edge High School in Richland received graduation congratulations.
“River’s Edge High School is more than awesome. It’s truly an inspirational school,” graduating senior Lindsay Cornelius told her 39 classmates and about 350 family and friends gathered for the ceremony. River's Edge is Richland School District's alternative school.
“To teach is to touch lives. I wouldn’t have made it without (my teachers),” Cornelius said in an emotional moment that kept the audience focused on the story of her journey to success.
“Thank you for seeing in me what I couldn’t see in myself. Today I am 9 months and 14 days sober, a high school graduate and heading to beauty school,” she proudly declared.
Valedictorian Jason Harris, sitting in a wheelchair, carried the theme forward, crediting his tutor, Rebecca Barrington, for inspiring him to achieve beyond what he imagined possible.
“I didn’t even expect to graduate, much less be valedictorian. She made me see I should never settle for just a passing grade, and she became my friend,” he said.
“You shouldn’t look up to me. Look up to someone like her,” he told his classmates.
Hoots and hollers filled the auditorium throughout the hour-long ceremony, which ended with a slide show of candid photos of the seniors from the past year.