Spring Creek and Elko High School seniors experienced different weather conditions during graduation ceremonies due to a thunderstorm that rolled in Friday afternoon
Dark cloudy skies and gusts of wind marked Spring Creek High School’s graduation as more than 160 seniors held on to caps during most of the commencement ceremony.
Ultimately, it was cut short due to increasing winds and lightning flashing in the sky. As a result, a song from the High Expectations Choir and a speech from Principal Shaun Taylor were removed from the program. Rain started to fall after the ceremony ended.
“We’re going to skip over my speech, because of this and get these kids graduated,” Taylor said as he waved toward the cloudy sky. “Congratulations, Class of 2021, you did it!”
But commencement speakers emphasized perseverance through times of trial, notably the pandemic that started the school year in distance learning before transitioning into hybrid and finally in-person attendance.
In her speech, Senior Class President Harper Wines looked back and pointed her classmates to the future.
“We all know this hasn’t been easy but I’m incredibly grateful for the memories we’ve been able to collect together,” Wines said. “Yeah, It’s kind of sad to push our childhoods behind us and say good bye to what we’ve always known, but the excitement that it brings outweighs it completely.”
Jackson Jones, SCHS Student Body President, took a selfie with his class before starting his speech. He acknowledged the challenges of the pandemic and encouraged his class to take the lessons learned into their future.
“As you continue your next chapter of life, look back on what you’re able to accomplish, even in the most dire of times. Let that motivate and inspire you. All of you are capable of many things, today is a sign of that. We are unique because of that,” Jones said.
Keynote speaker, SCHS mother and educator LeighAnn Hill encouraged the class to build their resiliency.
“Are you resilient? I would say, yes you are, so move forward competently into the future and take your confidence across this stage we call life to realize your dreams. Use your character to create new connections, make lasting contributions to your family, your community and the world,” Hill said. “As you continue to build your coping skills, take control of your future.”
Elizabeth Fellows delivered the senior address, noting that everyone’s life has similar but different experiences setting them up for their future.
“Some of these chapters may be similar, but we each have our journeys, with our own challenges and our own triumphs, with that being said let’s see where everyone’s chapter will take them,” Fellows said.
At Elko High School, the skies cleared before the school’s 125th commencement ceremony for more than 250 graduates.
Senior Benjamin Espinoza told the crowd he was grateful the school could have a traditional graduation. “This pandemic took a lot away from us. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this was a difficult year.”
“But if anything, I did learn a lot from this pandemic. One of those lessons being to never to take anything for granted,” Espinoza continued. “I took too much for granted. Spirit days, school events, rushing to lunch, Walking to class with friends. I learned that every minute, good and bad is worth saving. We should not focus on what the pandemic took away from us, but what we have.”
Loulou Neff of Ruby Valley delivered the senior address, comparing her class’s struggles during the pandemic with a personal experience.
“We made it through high school despite all the challenges disappointments and uncertainties we faced, and who knows what lies ahead,” Neff said. “The point is that life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, and I hope you all have great success in your future but none of are going to get there without first experiencing failures. Some of us might experience a lot of failures, but we’ve got to keep going.”
At the end of the ceremony, fireworks were set off from the Elko County Fairgrounds.