MONTE VISTA — The Sargent High School Class of 2021 celebrated at an in-person, indoor, graduation after a senior year that took a lot of strength and was full of challenges due to the pandemic.
Graduating senior Autumn Yocom began the ceremony by singing the national anthem.
A prayer was then said by fellow graduate Bryton Burkhart. Burkhart ending his prayer saying, “God I only have two requests to ask of you tonight. The first is that you would guide us all with your touching hand. That you would keep us safe and in your will. The final thing I want to ask you for is an open window in heaven for the loved ones who couldn’t be here with us. I ask that you would open it and let them watch and see our accomplishments. Thank you for the sacrifice through your Son Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of our sins.”
Sargent School District Superintendent Brian Crowther spoke about how special this moment was after a year of many hardships.
“This is a very special moment, I hope we can all appreciate it for what it is,” Crowther said. “A year ago, we did not have this opportunity, but we did the best we could. In a way it feels like two years ran into one. And I cherish this moment.”
Crowther mentioned some of the challenges students, teachers, staff, and parents faced and overcame.
During the ceremony, the SSD also presented the Teacher of the Year award to Kari Christoferson who has taught at the school for 7 years. The Staff Member of the Year was also recognized with the honor going to school nurse Gina Stephens.
Graduate Kage Pepper gave the salutatorian speech. Pepper shared that he has known many of his fellow graduates since preschool, reminiscing on their many memories together.
“I wanted to fashion some grand address about the importance of the pursuit of knowledge and how we can all change the world,” Pepper said. “You know, standard graduation speech stuff. While reflecting on the past for ideas, though, I came to the realization that we’ve all gained something more important than education during our time here at Sargent — friendship. Sure, we’ve learned things, important things that might help us get jobs, become leaders, and succeed in life. For me it’s not the desire to land some high-paying position or ‘change the world’ that got me through these past four years, though. It was all of you, my friends, my Sargent family who made the difference.”
Valedictorian Autumn Yocom reminded her classmates of the story of the tortoise and the hare during her speech and how it related to her goal of being the class valedictorian, a goal she set in the second grade.
“Let me remind you that working hard is good, there is nothing wrong with working hard. But hard work should not be done at the expense of relationships with others or at the expense of your overall happiness,” Yocom said. “In the race of life, you have the decision of being either the tortoise or the hare. You can either be in such a hurry to be the best, consumed in your own pride consumed in your own personal success, or you can take your time, enjoy the little things, live with a humble foot, and tend to the people that surround you. Regardless of what you choose, we will all make it to the finish line.”
Guest speaker Rafe Paulson addressed the graduates, sharing that life will be challenging.
“You must learn to stand strong and face the challenges head-on,” said Paulson, who spoke about his daughter’s fight with cancer before she was even a year old, and she taught him the importance of standing tall and strong.
Paulson said while life isn’t fair, it’s important to help others.
“We can make other’s lives not so difficult, nor tragic,” Paulson said. “You guys could be the lit candle in a dark room for somebody. While you’re trying to figure out your futures and your lives also ask yourselves what kind of person do you want to be? Because this is a far more important question to answer.”
Graduating Head Boy Caden Stickens and Graduating Head Girl Lauren Hefner passed down the “school spade” to next year’s Head Boy Parker Ford and Head Girl Kathryn Sewell.
During all the addresses appreciation to teachers, staff, parents, family, and friends were expressed. As part of the ceremony, seniors presented flowers to show their gratitude to the people in their lives that helped them get to this point.
The ceremony ended with confetti and caps flying as 30 graduates entered the world with hopes and dreams to be accomplished.
Students graduating this year from Sargent: Braxton Lee Asbell, Blake Christopher Behil, Bryton John Burkhart, Billie-Jean Faith Carbutt, Mason Ray Cross, Lauren Ashley Deacon, Rebecca Carol Deacon, Brennan Alan Gearhart, Wyatt Owen Lee Hanson, Sara Belle Hensley, Riley Thomas Kenison, Makayla Jordan Larimore, Parker William Larimore, Jessica N. Lopez, Marcus Kyle Lopez, Savona Rose Thomson, and Alicia Ja’Nae Urbina.
Graduating with high honors: Christopher Luciano Gustave Brandt, Payton James Brown, Lauren Elizabeth Hefner, Cameron Paxton Hsu, Kage Lane Pepper, Caleb Uriah Rabon, Caden Gage Stickens, McKenzie Kaye Tolliver, and Autumn LeAnn Yocom.
Graduating with honors: Lexxus Darlene Aguilar, Jaylynn Janessa Gomez, Marian Helen Kidd (also a seal of biliteracy), and Sadie Lynn Mitchell.