By MIKE FERGUSON
Of the Baker City Herald
One of their teachers, Barbara Gornick, told them they were the most important thing in Baker City.
Their counselor, LeRoy Gornick, invited them to close their eyes for a moment so they could focus on their feelings the pride, love and support of those sharing this day with you.
Still another tried to shatter any youthful myths that lingered.
Society owes you nothing, said teacher and coach Bill Pickens.
This community has given you life, love, food, shelter, clothing and an exceptional education. You now have a tremendous debt to pay to your family, your school, your community and your nation. Repay it by becoming a success, and work hard.
Under clear skies and in front of an overflow crowd full of well-wishers at Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium Sunday, 144 Baker High School seniors were awarded their diplomas.
And, as is the custom at most commencement exercises, plenty of speakers had advice for the 12 dozen honorees.
Dream like youll live forever, and live like youll die tomorrow, said valedictorian Courtney Warner.
Exactly 46 years ago today, Harry S. Truman gave a television interview, said Hilary Stricker, who offered the other valedictory address. He said the best advice you can give your children is to find out what they want the most, and then advise them to do it.
Stricker also reminded her fellow graduates not to forget their class motto: Doing what you like is freedom, but liking what you do is happiness.
And while the traditional Pomp and Circumstance was performed by the high school band, a non-traditional tune was also served up during commencement exercises. The senior farewell song which received a standing ovation from the Class of 2001 was entitled Dont Forget. The rock song was written and performed by seniors Scott Fraser, Kevin Lane and Brady Romtvedt, as well as sophomore Matt Jager.
Home is where the heart is, but my heads already gone, the boys sang. Is it too much to ask for to be off on my own?
Pickens and the Gornicks were invited to speak upon their retirements from longtime faculty positions at the high school. All addressed the seniors with their backs toward the audience. That bit of staging made it clear to whom they were addressing their remarks.
Its a tough job, talking to teenagers who already know everything, LeRoy Gornick joked. Many of you will remember how I told you to prepare for your parents to be really weird during your senior year. In truth, we teachers do the same thing. Were anxious that youve prepared the best you can be. Well, were not so worried now. Were confident you have the skills for further learning.
If you think it took you a long time to reach this day, Pickens, a 29-year veteran with the local school district, told the graduates, it took me seven years just to get through the middle school and another 22 years to finish high school.
Barbara Gornick said that the city and its business community put much effort into making Baker City a bucolic, safe community in which you can be proud.
Then she offered seniors the traditional Old Irish Blessing: May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. The sun shine warm upon your face. The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.