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Friday evening delivered perfect weather for an outdoor graduation.
It was sunny, warm and a sky the color of Chiefland High School’s blue.
As the sun smiled on C. Doyle McCall Field at Wayne Pridgeon Memorial Stadium on Friday a trickle, then a stream of blue gowned teens walked past the goal post around the stadium to the cheers of the village of Chiefland that packed the parents’ seating, the dignitaries’ seating and overflowed the home team’s bleachers.
Grant Cothron, Truitt Renaud, Colby Brock and Garrett Schmidt could barely keep up with the crowd as they handed out programs that will be saved for years to come.
Glenda Barley was hawking yearbooks and ice-cold bottled water to raise money for the school’s journalism program and she was doing a hefty business at a buck a bottle.
Off to the side the teachers gathered and adjusted the hoods that adorned their black gowns.
Beyond were the students, a long line of blue, getting ready to enter the stadium where they would receive their diplomas.
Then the procession, the graduates to be too their seats and the final minutes of their education were at hand.
Not without a glitch of course.
As graduate Zachary Tyson hit the first lyrics of “The Journey,” a song he wrote for the occasion, there was an equipment failure.
He took it in stride, waited for the re-cue and said, ”Let’s see if we can get it right this time.”
It went off without a hitch.
Speaking of hitches, Dane Cothron, Student Government Association president, used a wagon as the vehicle for his greeting.
“Think of our time together as a wagon we have been filling with memories to sustain us,” he said. He drew a laugh from the dignitaries and educators section when he added, “Our teachers have tried so hard to load our wagons with the things they thought we needed.”
Filling the wagon now is another job. “It’s not up to our teachers. It’s up to us,” Cothron said.
Senior Class President Katherine Bowker commended the class “for living through all the drama.”
“We’ve had the times of our lives at Wal-Mart,” she said, “and at Sonic.”
Life she said was like a book and graduation is one of its pages. “Once you turn that page, you’ll never turn it back.”
Janice Thomas, senior class treasurer, asked those who will be entering the military to stand and on behalf of the class and the community thanked the six graduates for their service to the country, whished them well and asked that they return home safely.
Senior Class Vice President Cassandra Cummings noted that the class was already pretty successful before getting out the door. “You have earned over $450,000 in scholarships and grants.”
Elsom Wong, class salutatorian, greeted the “crying moms and happy dads.”
Wong who moved from Oklahoma to Florida to live with another family until his parents moved to Chiefland recalled moving to “this village” in the 6th grade.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child and I want to thank the community for shaping me into the person I am.”