Camas High Papermakers celebrate accomplishments

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“Tonight, we have a clean slate, an opportunity to pursue anything we want. Let’s move on to the next stage of life and push back our comfort zones,” said Alex Pien, Camas High School valedictorian.Pien certainly understands pushing the comfort zone as a distance runner, but on Friday he was addressing his 359 classmates participating in CHS commencement ceremonies at Doc Harris Stadium.

The class of 2012 was the largest in school history, but still a tight knit family, said Principal Steve Marshall.

“There are sure some big challenges that await you,” he said. “And you’ve done a lot so far, no doubt you will do more. You set a tone to do your best despite distractions and challenges that get into everyone’s way.”

Marshall mentioned the CHS football team playing in the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome and finishing in the final four, the girls cross country team winning state, the girls basketball team qualifying for state for the first time since 1978, and sports teams overall participating in 20 of 22 state tournaments. The Knowledge Bowl team won state for the third-year running, and placed 11th in the nation. Team “Mean Machine” of the Robotics Club won a regional, 65 team tournament to qualify for nationals. Marshall also mentioned CHS being named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top high schools in the country in 2010 and 2012.

“I’m recognizing just a fraction of what you did,” he said. “It does not take into account personal bests, the 150 songs memorized by our band, and all the service projects you participated in.”

The senior class choose English teacher and football coach Matt Loop to be the faculty speaker. He graduated from CHS in 1989 and has been teaching in the district for 18 years.

Loop delivered a lighthearted speech, recalling funny moments in class and on the football field.

“You should seize the day, but remember there is always more to be learned,” he said. “All of those people who invented Facebook and all the little phones you’re so addicted to read books, too. There might be something to it, I’m just saying.”

He ended his speech with a quote from Dr. Arthur K. “Doc” Harris, a longtime football trainer and team doctor. The stadium is named in his honor.

“I talked to his daughter to see if I could use a quote of his in my speech, and the one I liked the most was this: ‘It’s better to wear out, then rust out.’”

Like most outdoor graduations, this one was not without technical difficulties. When senior Anna Nollenberger took the floor to sing “I Hope You Dance,” the sound system gave out. She chose to perform anyway, and delivered a moving, acapella version.

Salutatorian Nadine Stone delivered a bit of comic relief during her speech.

“I know I’m supposed to come up here and give you advice, but honestly, I’m just as clueless as the rest of you,” she said. “I have no idea what real life looks like. But go do something: Change the world, take over the world, but do something. The great end of life is not knowledge, but action. Go out and do something, and have fun while you’re at it.”