Comet seniors hold virtual graduation
June 11, 2020
Because of the pandemic, the Naselle High School Class of 2020 held a virtual graduation on Saturday in lieu of a more traditional ceremony.
The graduation began with a recording of each senior in their own processional, as the traditional Pomp and Circumstance played, and then Valedictorian Ethan Lindstrom spoke briefly, welcoming all.
Salutatorian Abigail Moten followed, with some thoughts on current events, and some encouraging words for her classmates.
"We entered the world after the tragedy of 9/11, and we finished a huge milestone in the midst of a pandemic, Moten said during her speech. "A global pandemic was not on the list of things I expected, but over the years I've learned to roll with the punches. I'm deeply sorry to all of you for all that you've missed out on, from your last year of spring sports, senior prom, senior trip, and in person graduation, and many more events. This has been a year of extreme loss, loss of lives, loss of hopes, loss of plans, and loss of financial stability. I feel the overwhelming weight of sadness swimming around everywhere I go. Our world is grieving. But I've always been a firm believer that feeling is healing."
"What are you going to do with your life?" She asked her classmates. "The world needs you more now than ever. It needs the medical professionals, the teachers, the philosophers, the parents, the scientists, the fishermen, the chefs, the retail workers. It needs all of us."
"This is an extremely hard working, high achieving, talented, and resilient group of students," Faculty Speaker Justin Laine said.
He spoke of the four running start students who are graduating with associate degrees, and Moten, who is the youngest student ever accepted into Clatsop Community College's top-ranked nursing program, after completing college courses from three different colleges.
"Three are entering medical programs at four year colleges," he said. "A couple others have made significant progress towards their automotive and welding certificates."
One graduate will go on to play college baseball, one intends to play college basketball, one may compete in college track, and yet another aspires to play college and professional football, Laine said.
Whatever their future plans, it was clear Laine was proud of each and every one of them for taking on the challenges that had already come their way, and he reminded them of how capable and strong they were.
"Though you can't always control your circumstances, you do have control over how you respond to them," Laine said. "Henry Ford once said something that I believe was rather profound, 'Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.' It is also written somewhere, 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'"
He also urged students to consider the legacy they will leave.
"Warren Buffett once said it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five years to ruin it," Laine said. "Simply stated, your choices, even the seemingly small ones matter. I want to encourage the Class of 2020 and the classes that follow to leave a legacy of kindness and compassion, of character and integrity, of service and sacrifice. In the end, I believe what matters most is what you contribute to this world and how you treat others."
"Popular culture encourages us to look out for number one," Laine added. "You are living in a time when we are asked to sacrifice for the good of others. I encourage you to look out for others while you strive to realize your dreams."
"We're going to have to grow up a bit faster than other generations," Student speaker Zanith Wulf said. "This pandemic has shown many of our country's deep-seated problems, like economic inequality, and the lack of basic health care for those who need it, to ongoing racial disparity. Our generation has woken to the fact that many of the old ways of doing things just don't work any more. Our society and democracy will never work if we continue to just think about ourselves. Obama once said, it doesn't matter how much money you make if everyone else around you is hungry and sick. Also, the truth is, that many of those adults you looked up to for advice, they don't have the answers either, but if the world is going to be better, we have to make the changes ourselves."
"Don't be afraid," Wulf encouraged. "Do what's right instead of what is convenient. Build a community."
Nirvana's Krist Novoselic, who lives in Deep River, and Jordan Poyer, safety for the Buffalo Bills and a former Naselle student, congratulated the class.
"Humans throughout our history naturally have practiced things like reciprocity, but it is the notion of humanity, where people do kind things for each other without expecting anything back," Novoselic said. "The only rational explanation for this notion of humanity is an individual wanting to make the world a better place. In other words, there is something in it for you when being kind."
"The Naselle High School Class of 2020 have our future to build, and in the course of meaningful work throughout your lives, find time to watch the sun rise or watch the spring flowers bloom," he added. "Today is your moment, the rest of your lives is your time."
"I encourage all of you, now that you're out in the real world, to continue to push yourself in order to make strides and make this world a better place," Poyer said. "Enjoy your next steps in life. It doesn't get any easier, but it's definitely worth it."
Superintendent Lisa Nelson introduced the Class of 2020, and the tassels were turned.
"We all knew this class had something special in store," Nelson said. "What we didn't realize at the time was that they would be the first ever class to graduate virtually from Naselle High School."
The Class of 2020 was offered more than $715,000 in scholarships. Future career plans include construction, fire science, health care, engineering, nursing, dental assistant, barista, welding, vessel operations, fish and wildlife management, commercial fishing, child and family therapist, business/education, music production, automotive technologies, nuclear medicine, architecture, professional football, dental hygiene, mental health specialist, and diesel technologies.
The class motto? "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them..." -Andy Bernard from The Office.