by Nathan Warner
“Because of you all, we can say we don’t go to work every morning, we go to school,” Zimmerman High School teacher Jim Doran laughed, welcoming the 159 graduating seniors to the Zimmerman High School gymnasium Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m.
The graduates streamed into the auditorium to the rousing processional, “Pomp and Circumstance,” conducted by High School band director, Tim Smith.
Superintendent Mark Bezek earned a resounding cheer from parents when he asked them if they were happy to have their seniors moving on to a new stage of their lives. “The previous generations did their job to ensure that you all have the opportunities you have,” he addressed the students. “The gifts we’ve been able to give you are education, technology and communication, and now it’s up to you to keep the circle rotating, carrying humanity to even higher heights.”
Three things he wanted the seniors to remember as they started their new journey were not to waste their time, to take pride in what they do, and to stay close to parents, family, and their faith.
Valedictorian Matthew Milless declared in his speech, titled “Choices,” that it was time for his fellow students to create their own futures. “Each of us holds our destiny in our own hands,” he said, ending with a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Take care of your thoughts because they become words. Take care of your words because they will become actions. Take care of your actions because they will become habits. Take care of your habits because they will form your character. Take care of your character because it will form your destiny, and your destiny will be your life.”
Principal Marco Voce compared life to a roller coaster. “We’ve had plenty of ups and down these last few years, with lowest of the low being the death of Glen ‘Bubba’ Bye, and I want you to know that there will be more ups and downs in the future, but remember what you learned here at Zimmerman High School to stay positive and work hard.”
Despite requests for a quiet ceremony, families and friends could not contain their enthusiasm for the graduates as they strolled across the stage, overlooking a photograph of their classmate, Bye, who was killed last year in a car accident.
“Thanks to the Bye family for sharing their incredible strength,” student speaker Lynk Downing said, “and thanks to all the strangers who supported us and became our friends through those tough days. We couldn’t have done it without you.” He added that “perseverance” best described his fellow classmates.
School board member Janelle Henry accepted the class of 2011 and declared that the school district had proudly voted to retain their mission statement to “educate, inspire, and empower.”
“This class really lives in the moment,” English teacher Amy Onstad addressed the class, “and as exasperating as that can be for parents and teachers who constantly want their students to plan for the future, I don’t ever want you to forget to live in the moment — it is this class’ great strength. Live long and prosper.”