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The Kemmerer High School Class of 2017 graduated 33 students at the commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 3.
Families and friends of the graduates gathered in the Kemmerer Junior Senior High School gymnasium to celebrate the occasion.
The KJSHS band provided processional and recessional music, and the KHS Senior Choir students performed the national anthem.
Johnny Stetzenbach gave the valedictorian address. She thanked the graduates’ families and teachers for their support and congratulated her fellow graduates on their achievements.
“Even though I’m the valedictorian, I’m not the smartest or most talented in this class,” Stetzenbach said. “We are a class of future engineers, doctors and nurses, mechanics, teachers, welders, businessmen, writers, producers, ranchers and designers.”
Commencement speaker Merlyn Sandberg’s commencement address focused on lessons graduates could learn from the historic Pony Express in 1860 and 1861.
Pony Express riders took a loyalty oath and worked hard at all costs to ensure the “mail must go through,” Sandberg said.
The eighteen months of the Pony Express changed history by allowing mail to be delivered across the nation at speeds that were unprecedented.
Sandberg said the Express riders delivered more than 35,000 letters before the transcontinental telegraph made their jobs unnecessary.
Sandberg said every Pony Express rider including well-known figures like William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and “Pony Bob” Haslam, knew the importance of their work, and graduates could learn several lessons about true success from their actions.
“Success is short-lived. Success isn’t about the money,” Sandberg said. “Success is a team effort; we don’t want to be the rider who’s afraid to ride on.
“Not everybody gets credit, and change is inevitable,” she said. “Some tasks require meticulous planning, and some require us to throw caution to the wind.”
Sandberg reminded the Class of 2017 about their responsibility to leave a legacy for future students of Kemmerer High School.
“Those who come after you will build on what you built,”she said. “Make sure they have to step up high.”
Sandberg then spoke about character and told the graduates that “character is the essence of who you are.” She outlined four tenets of character that the graduates should strive to develop: honesty, responsibility, respect and hardwork.
“Be decent, be appreciative, considerate and civil,” Sandberg said. “The golden rule works.”
In regards to hard work, she said, “Don’t be afraid to do a little extra. You leave your signature on every piece of work you do.”
Sandberg concluded her address with the last line of the Pony Express oath: “… in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers, so help me God.”
The Class of 2017 received their diplomas from Principal Orlen Zempel and the Board of Trustees for Lincoln County School District No. 1.
After all the graduates received their diplomas, they turned their tassels and threw their caps up into the air to celebrate.