John Kelleher Havre Daily News email@example.com
As they lined up for graduation ceremonies Sunday, Havre High School seniors talked about their past the fun they had in high school and their future the Marines, college and careers. There was the usual mix of joy and sadness. "I feel very happy," said Donald Cox Jr., wearing his white graduation gown. "I have worked my whole life for this. "I am the first on my father's side of the family to graduate from high school," Cox said. The next step in his life will be to go to college to become a pharmacist. He's excited about his future, but will miss the friendships he developed at Havre High. "A lot of supportive people ... helped me go from an at-risk student to a person of character." Fellow students and teachers helped him on his path, he said. He was one of 149 graduates to receive diplomas. Friends and family filled the gymnasium. The overflow crowd nearly filled the theater to watch on closed-circuit television. "It feels good to be getting out of here," said Jonathan Haigler. "But I am going to be sad today. I have lots of good friend here." His future wasn't a secret. In October, he will head off to San Diego for Marine Corps basic training. He carried a Marine dress cap into the ceremony. As soon as he was handed his diploma and Superintendent Dennis Parman moved the tassels on his mortarboard from left to right, Haigler took off his cap, put on his Marine hat and saluted the crowd. Some found themselves shocked that their high school careers were over so soon. "I'm very surprised," said Mikaela Lipp. "High school went by very fast." She wi l l go to Montana State University in Bozeman to become a teacher. Josh Miller is looking for an occupation where he can help people. Law enforcement fits the bill. "It's not the same thing every day," Miller said. "You can make a difference." The grads walked into the gymnasium single file as the symphonic band played the graduation processional. The entire crowd rose to clap and sing the school song. Parman, attending his last graduation before moving to Helena to become deputy state superintendent of public instruction, asked veterans in the crowd to stand and be recognized. "We can't thank you enough for your service," he said. He then asked anyone parents relatives, teachers or friends who had anything to do with helping the Class of 2009 to rise and be thanked. More than half the crowd got on its feet and cheers broke out. Jay Pyette, high school English and drama teacher, selected by the class as the commencement speaker, told graduates they had learned a lot during their high school years and much of it they learned from each other. "You have learned to be good people," he said. "I can't imagine you not finding success," he told the class, "You have too much potential ... too much passion. "Be the person you want to be," he said. "Stand up for your values. Be true to yourself."