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Graduations on the Hi-Line


May 20, 2013

Tears, cheers, laughter for Box Elder grads

There were cheers, tears and laughter as the 11 members of the Box Elder High School Class of 2013 were saluted at commencement ceremonies Saturday.

The graduates walked into the gymnasium down a yellow and white path lined with blue balloons.

Leading the procession was Jonni Rose Bacon, the valedictorian, who won a host of scholarships, including a GEAR UP Scholarship with a value of $22,580. She was one of 50 in Montana to win such a scholarship.

Bacon will go to Montana State University at Bozeman. She plans to become a doctor specializing in diabetes prevention and care.

A slideshow with photos of the graduates from their younger days through graduation brought laughter and cheers from the audience.

Featured speaker Joel Rosette, a Chippewa Cree tribal attorney, Box Elder alumni and girls basketball coach, urged graduates to become leaders in the effort for change.

“There’s a lot more to be done out there ... in this community, in this world.,” he said.

“I’m just like you,” he said. “I grew up in these villages right here,” he said.

He said their adventure wasn’t over with graduation.

“There are a lot more mountains to climb,” he said.

“I don’t want to lie and stand up here and say it will be easy,” he told them. “But if you put your focus into this you will succeed.”

“We don’t have too many graduating from college in this community,” he said. “We need to change that.”

He called on them to become doctors or accountants.

“We have four or five Box Elder graduates teaching here,” he said. “We need more.”

Bacon became emotional during her address, saying she had known most of her class since kindergarten and some before that.

She thanked teachers, class advisers and others in the school for the encouragement they had given students.

“One moment we were freshmen,” she said. “The next moment we were seniors.”

“We made a lot of memories together,” she said.

She became especially teary-eyed as she thanked her mother, who had worked on several class projects over the years.

The first Dr. Robert Joseph Swan Scholarship was awarded to Bacon, and there were tears as it was presented.

Swan’s son, Jim Swan, said he stopped to visit his father’s grave before attending ceremonies to make sure he could get through his speech without breaking down.

Robert J. Swan, longtime community leader and businessman, died Jan. 1.

He said his father, a devout fan of the University of Montana Grizzlies, would be amused that the first winner of the scholarship named in his honor would be going to Montana State University.

His father graduated from Box Elder High School more than 50 years ago, he said.

“He made great contributions to the world, especially this small corner of the world, Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.”

Bacon and others handed out Indian blankets to numerous people who helped the class over the years, and the entire class walked in line to shake hands with and present a plaque to retiring School Superintendent Robert Heppner, who has headed Box Elder schools for 12 years.

High School principal Darin Hannum, soon to be the new superintendent, called out the names of the graduates, who received diplomas from school board chair Barbara Friede.

Beaters say goodbye to High School

There were high-fives and lots of hugs at the graduation ceremonies at Chinook High School wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

Twenty-two graduates received diplomas during the ceremonies.

The class, it was noted, was smaller than usual, “but a close-knit group.

“And we had a lot of fun,” said valedictorian Robert Klingaman.

Student speakers were all thankful for the community support they had been given over the years.

”We’d like to thank the school, teachers, staff, family and friends for joining our celebration,” said Class President Geoffrey Qualls. “And a special shout out to my mom. I love you.”

Mel Walters of the U.S. Navy formally presented Klingaman with his certificate of acceptance into the United States Naval Academy.

Klingaman was one of 19,000 people to apply, he said. About 1,200 were accepted.

There was a rigorous admissions procedure, he said. It started with a recommendation from U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and a series of interviews and a physical fitness test.

After four years, Klingaman will receive a bachelor of science degree and a commission in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps, he said. The education will have a value of $400,000.

Walters went out of his way to praise Klingaman’s parents.

“Every successful applicant has strong support from the parents,” he said.

In his valedictory address, Klingaman warned of the trials and tribulations of the longing to be successful, but he urged classmates to seek success throughout their lives.

“Your own mind is the best motivator in the world,” he said.

Guest speaker Rick Lindquist, a Chinook teacher, quoted cartoonist Gary Trudeau as saying the commencement speaker’s job is to ensure that graduates don’t go out into the world “until they are properly sedated.”

He called on students to keep learning throughout their lives and to observe the world around them.

“Get your heads out of your smartphones,” he said. “You may learn something.”

He urged them to tell the truth as they go through life.

Quoting George Orwell in “1984,” he advised “tell the truth, that has become a revolutionary act.”

Seven graduate at North Star

Seven graduates of North Star High School received diplomas at ceremonies Saturday at the Rudyard School.

Aron King and Kassidy Hansen delivered the salutatory and valedictory addresses.

Retiring School superintendent Ken Halverson presented awards to the graduates before they processed out of the gymnasium to the recessional “Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey.

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