In its usually prompt and efficient commencement ceremony, the Oregon School District granted diplomas to 91 graduating seniors on May 26.
“They are the ultimate example of our district’s Four Pillars of academics, service, achievement and leadership,” said OHS Principal Heidi Deininger.
Deininger acknowledged the myriad of honors the class has received, including student grade point averages, National Honor Society, entering the Armed Forces and ROTC, Silver Service Award for a cumulative 13,116 hours of community service and even blood donations.
This is besides the roughly $600,000 in scholarships.
Of the 91 seniors, 30 of them met the criteria in one of more of these categories.
In keeping with the dignity of the occasion, Deininger had them stand collectively by their seats to be recognized, instead of bringing each student to the stage.
That is part of the OCUSD philosophy of conducting a graduation. They recognize graduation as a formal ceremony and discourage whistling, applauding and otherwise recognizing individuals.
Lora Stevens McKee gave a brief commencement address, while the senior reflections were done by Isabelle Nelson and Christina Tranchina.
“We have experienced highs and lows that got us where we are now – the most important day of our lives,” said Tranchina, who had a enthusiastic support of family in the front row of seats at the Blackhawk Center.
One drawback to the ceremony was a sound system that made it difficult for the large crowd to hear the various speakers.
In a new tradition, the 2019 class selected as its guest speaker a member of the OCUSD staff that influenced them. Sixth-grade teacher Nate Rogers was this year’s choice.
“I’m impressed and amazed from the growth since they were 11-12 year olds,” said Rogers, a 1997 OHS grad himself. “When we had you in sixth grade, we could tell the whole class had a great bond.”
After Superintendent Tom Mahoney and the school board presented the class and handed out diplomas, senior president Olivia Stafford directed the time-honored tradition of the turning the tassel from right to left, signifying one has received their diploma.
“There are members of the state choir and band, as well as highly-awarded artists,” Deininger said. “They brought home the first-ever girls track conference title and first-ever girls soccer regional title and have not one, but two wrestlers finish third in the state.”
The seniors also helped put OHS into the state and national spotlight through their social enterprise business, as Oregon is one of the only high schools in the nation with this program.
“They are good human beings, hard-working individuals and something for this community to be proud of,” Deininger said.
In less than an hour after commencement began, the new grads were marching out of the Blackhawk Center as the Oregon concert band played “March from the First Suite in E Flat.”