Hayes Freedom Renegades receive diplomas Saturday

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Hayes Freedom seniors Garth Vaughan, Jacob Ritter, Casey Ortiz and Taylor Johnson (from left to right) enjoy the view from the front row during their graduation ceremony, in the Liberty Middle School gym. While Ortiz has signed with the Navy, other graduates are planning to attend four-year colleges, Clark College or trade schools, according to Principal Amy Holmes.

Excitement and elation were among the emotions of the day when the Hayes Freedom High School Class of 2012 graduated.Forty-one seniors received diplomas Saturday afternoon, among family and friends in the Liberty Middle School gym.

The procession, featuring “Pomp and Circumstance,” was followed by seniors Caitlyn Barnes and Robyn Bonazelli singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” They also sang “An Irish Blessing,” later in the ceremony.

Principal Amy Holmes said she hoped the students had learned responsibility, kindness and compassion — along with math and science.

This was the fifth Hayes Freedom graduating class, and it was the smallest with 41 graduates.

“Remember how you feel right now — accomplished and hopeful,” Holmes said. “Let it guide your decisions.”

Braxton Bull, co-president of the Student Congress, said every teacher encouraged him to do better. He received Senior Board Excellence recognition after he earned an ‘excellent’ on his senior paper and senior project.

Monica Winkley, a history teacher, described the class of Renegades as “fierce, passionate and independent.”

“Accepting help is not a sign of weakness,” she said. “The world is not uniformly against you.”

After Winkley said this year’s senior class reminded her of cats — solitary and wanting love and affection on their terms — she added that lions and tigers are cats and they are loyal.

Winkley requested the graduates consider the value of compromise, and they vote for their hopes rather than their fears.

“Have fun and be safe,” she added. “You are a child of the universe. It’s a beautiful world. Strive to be happy.”

Riley Robinson, a senior, said Hayes Freedom has provided a chance for everyone — “a ticket to a better future.”

“We are kind, proud and fearless,” she said. “This is home for Renegades. We earned a better future.”

After Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland asked the soon-to-graduates “Are you ready?” school board member Doug Quinn accepted the class, and diplomas were presented.

After the graduates received their diplomas, they were greeted with handshakes and hugs from Hayes Freedom faculty and staff, as well as school board members and Nerland.

The throwing of the graduation caps into the air marked the completion of the ceremony, as the graduates confidently strolled out of the gym.

After the ceremony, Holmes said it was a great day.

“It is hard to watch them walk away from us, but I am so proud,” she said. “I have the honor of being principal and serving these students.”

Two graduates — Emma-mae Kunkel and Makena Nahas — also earned associate’s degrees while in high school. They were part of the Running Start program at Clark College.

“We have several who are going on to four-year colleges, trade schools and Clark College,” Holmes said later. “Casey Ortiz has signed with the Navy.”