By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Friends, teachers, family members, and well-wishers filled the gymnasium at Moapa Valley High School on Friday night to honor the school’s Graduating Class of 2017. This year’s commencement ceremony was especially notable because it marked the 100th class to graduate from MVHS.
The evening began with the graduating seniors entering the gym two by two to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance played by the school band.
Kinzi Robinson, Senior Class President, welcomed a group of past MVHS principals that were seated on the stand to help celebrate the anniversary. The list included Dr. Gary Cameron, Dan Reese, Dr. Larry Moses, Grant Hanevold, and current principal Hal Mortensen.
Valedictorian Chase Kruse spoke next. He reminded classmates to thank those who had helped them get where they are.
“Congratulations all on a job well done,” Kruse said. “I hope we can all recognize those that helped us, both biological and not, to get here tonight.”
Valedictorian Daesha Stastny followed Kruse. She remarked that everyone remembers friends and family, but it also important to remember the friends made in classes and associations at school.
“Some of our strongest bonds are made at school,” she said. “Friends from classes are the most underrated.”
“Class of 2017, find your passion and follow it,” Stastny concluded. “Now is the time to start following your dream.”
Salutatorian Taylor Shiozawa also spoke, thanking his family and the MVHS faculty. He spoke to underclassmen and gave them some advice. “I recommend you get involved in school activities,” he said. “I have never regretted any that I tried and you won’t either. What you will regret, however, is not trying.”
Shiozawa also encouraged underclass students to make an effort to be nice to their classmates. “You can make a difference in their lives and they can make a difference in yours,” he said.
MVHS Principal Hal Mortensen spoke of the 100-year anniversary saying that, in the very first MVHS Class of 1917 there were only two graduates. In the time since then, MVHS has graduated over 6,000 students, he said. Mortensen recognized past MVHS graduates that were present, asking them all to stand. About 1/3 of the capacity crowd stood.
Mortensen told a story of driving a tractor growing up in Arizona. He said when driving he learned to aim at a tree or post because if he aimed at a cow, even though it seemed it didn’t move, when he looked back at his row, it wouldn’t quite be straight.
“It is the same with you,” he told graduates. “There will be times when you look back at your life and your rows aren’t quite straight. There will be times when you get knocked down. MVHS graduates are persistent, tenacious, and they persevere. You are a pirate. Set your goals high and when you get knocked down, pick yourself up and go at it again.”
He then presented the Class of 2017 and Hybarger accepted it, saying, “I’m so happy to accept. Go Pirates!”
Diplomas were presented to each student in turn and the ceremony ended with the traditional singing of the Alma Mater and the MVHS fight song.
Following the ceremonies, graduates and their families met on the lawn outside the gym for pictures, hugs, and congratulations.
Graduate Justin Paystrup said, “I can’t believe how fast it all went by! I’m excited for what the future holds and to see what everyone becomes.”
“It’s finally over,” said Denver Conger. “Today we’re graduates and celebrating. But tomorrow we have to get up and go back to work. It’s time to grow up.”
Mortensen commented that it was a night to remember. “What an honor to be here for the 100-year anniversary of this great school,” he said. “We look forward to keeping that legacy in the years to come.”