Smiles could be seen throughout Doc Harris Stadium Friday night, as the first Camas High School class to attend a graduation ceremony in the rebuilt structure were there to enjoy themselves.
During the processional, bubbles started to fill the air as the CHS band performed “Pomp and Circumstance.”
Principal Steve Marshall set the tone for the event early on, saying it could be a “dignified ceremony and a celebration.” He then requested they save the air horns for later.
Marshall referred to the school expansion project when he talked about the construction workers making the school bigger, while the seniors made it better. He talked about the importance of having an attitude to cope, working hard, being kind and friendly to others and being open to new experiences.
Marshall mentioned that this graduating class earned an achievement award from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, which recognized the top five percent of all high schools in the state for test scores.
He read a lengthy list of success stories involving many of the CHS sports teams, as well as the Knowledge Bowl and Robotics teams and individuals involved in theater, DECA, the marching band, and other activities.
The seniors were also involved in raising money to help victims of the tsunami in Japan and generating donations of food and money for the annual “Stuff the Bus” food and toy drive for families in the Camas-Washougal area.
“You brought red and black back,” Marshall said. “2011 was a great year to be a Papermaker.”
Senior Class President Raya Klein mentioned that the soon-to-be graduates included future doctors, engineers, athletes and artists who will continue to “share the Papermaker spirit.”
Class Vice President Zach Anderson recognized teacher Sharon Brown, who will retire this month after working in the Camas School District for 25 years. She received a standing ovation.
Marshall acknowledged 26 “Running Start” students who studied at two campuses (CHS and Clark College) to earn their high school diplomas and associate’s degrees.
Senior Odin Coe recognized 11 seniors who will serve in the military. A standing ovation from students, parents, faculty and the rest of the attendees occurred as the names and branches of services were announced.
Linda Kimball, a teacher of English, U.S. Government/Current World Issues, creative writing and classic films, was chosen by the class of 2011 to be the faculty speaker.
She compared the graduation ceremony to a wedding.
“You wear funny clothes,” Kimball said. “You hope people will write big checks, and the night will end with a party.”
She encouraged graduates to remember they are Americans who need to protect their rights. Kimball also said they are global citizens, and she hummed an excerpt from “It’s a Small World After All.”
In addition to typos on resumes, she told the seniors to pay attention to things such as the cost of buying a daily cup of coffee if they are having financial difficulties. Kimball received a standing ovation.
Alexa Rakoski and Marty Horn performed “Time of Your Life,” as more bubbles were blown. They received a standing ovation.
As part of the “class farewell,” several seniors talked about the memories that the Papermaker class of 2011 has to take with them. They included “tank top Tuesdays,” playing football at Quest Field in Seattle and participating in “Stuff the Bus.”
Superintendent Mike Nerland thanked the parents of the graduates before he introduced School Board President Connie Hennessey. She accepted the class, and diplomas were presented. The beach balls made a return appearance during the diploma distribution, followed by several sprays of Silly String.
A class video featured images of athletic events, pep rallies and school clubs and activities, as the songs “Time of My Life” and “Forever Young” were played.
Toward the end of the ceremony, each graduate donned a pair of sunglasses and danced to “Forever,” by Chris Brown. At the song’s conclusion, many of the graduates threw their caps into the air.
As they greeted family members and friends, several graduates were seen clutching bouquets of roses and lilies.
The graduates eventually left for an all-night drug-and alcohol-free graduation party at the Mt. Scott Community Center, in Portland.