Weiser seniors sent off with unique graduation

Steve Lyon

Horns honked and cheers erupted in the Weiser High School parking lot as seniors participated in a unique commencement ceremony held outdoors on Sunday.
 The 122 seniors in the Class of 2020 are unlikely to forget the circumstances surrounding their graduation during the coronavirus pandemic.
 A special time called for a special graduation, one that mixed the traditional with the virtual.
 Attired in caps and gowns, seniors exited their vehicles when principal Dave Davies called their names. While practicing social distancing, seniors one by one picked up their diplomas, stopped for a photo on stage and returned to their vehicles and families.
 School district trustees wearing facemasks sat behind the stage in quiet support of the graduates. They usually have the job of handing out the diplomas, but not this year.
 Following commencement, a parade of dozens of cars containing the graduates and their parents left the high school parking lot and followed the route used every fall for Homecoming through town and finished at Weiser Middle School.  
 The parade route was lined with well-wishers and family, many of whom put up signs acknowledging graduates.
 The virtual part of the graduation debuted on YouTube following the parade. The video featured the high school choir and chamber singers led by Mike Turner and short speeches from principal Dave Davies, class officers Branson Ward, Khalexius Burgess and Ciana Fuller and honor graduates Bentley Weldon and Grace Soulen.
 In announcing that the seniors had fulfilled the requirements to graduate, Davies also thanked staff and faculty at WHS for their efforts during the unprecedented past couple of months during the coronavirus pandemic.
 “While it would have been much easier to fold our tents at the end of the third quarter this year, the WHS staff and faculty once again rose to the occasion and did an incredible job finding new ways to intervene and to remain engaged with students,” he said.
 Weldon, one of the two honor student speakers, said the 2020 commencement was arguably one of the most memorable graduations in the school’s history due to the circumstances.
 She thanked teachers and faculty for their support and encouragement over the past 12 years.
 Success can come to students who attend schools and graduate from high school in a small town like Weiser.
 She pointed out that alumni of WHS have played professional football, competed in a national pageant and been accepted to Harvard.
 “What do all these people have in common? They are all Wolverines and alumni from Weiser High School,” she said.
 Senior Grace Soulen, the second honor speaker, said achievement comes from hard work and nothing big comes without it.  
 She pointed to the high school robotics program’s qualifying for Worlds and the WHS cheerleader’s 12 district championships.
 “There are many examples at WHS where hard work and tenacity have achieved greatness and I want to encourage all of you to practice those traits as we face the inevitable highs and lows of life,” she said.
 There were some special scholarships and awards given out at commencement to graduating seniors that were previously not announced.
 •The Harry Reeves Memorial Scholarship was given to Layten Tolman.
 •Seniors Brady Beam, Grace Soulen and Justin Estes received the Larry and Rolaine Hansen Family Scholarship.
 •Bentley Weldon received the Charles F. Gill Humanitarian Award and Scholarship.
 •Justin Estes and Bentley Weldon were named as the recipients of the Babe Ruth Award.
 •Grace Soulen and Branson Ward received the Distinguished Citizenship Award.
 In addition to the scholarships awarded during commencement, the counseling department at WHS noted a few additional scholarships.
 •Justin Estes received the Bill Herr Memorial Scholarship.
 •The Weiser STEM Scholarship worth $10,000 went to Jaclyn Dunn.
 •Tim Reed received the $6,000 Linkous Foundation Scholarship.
 •The Four Rivers Association of Realtors awarded $1,000 each to Andrea Bouvia, Jaclyn Dunn, and Kelsi Marvin.
 •The Weiser Classic Candy Scholarship went to Justin Estes.

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Weiser, ID 83672
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