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By a few minutes after 11 a.m. on Saturday, 164 Tahoe-Truckee High School seniors of the Class of 1999 walked onto the field at Surprise Stadium – with packed stands, blue skies and a bright future before them.
Family, friends and supporters, some of who arrived as early as 6:30 a.m. to claim seating, raised their heads in anticipation as soon-to-be graduates marched in pairs to “Pomp and Circumstances.” Of course, laughter, cheering and tears played their traditional role in this year’s graduation ceremonies.
Senior Jana Bergen kicked off the ceremonies by singing the national anthem, and then the speeches began.
Salutatorian Kirsten Mickelson shared with friends, families and fellow graduates the popular lyrics to “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen),” which began as a graduation column in the Chicago Tribune written by Mary Schmich.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 1999, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it,” quoted Mickelson. Other advice included: “Do one thing everyday that scares you … Sing … Floss … Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how … Enjoy your body, use it every way you can, don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own … Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good …”
Speeches by co-valedictorians Susan Lingelbach and Elia Burrill shared Mickelson’s spirit of enthusiasm for the “real world” and the future.
“It has seemed like forever since today would come,” said Lingelbach. “Class of 1999, are you ready to take the plunge?
Believe in yourself. Without self respect and self-esteem, you won’t go very far after today. Whatever you do in your life, please don’t just watch it go by … Embrace it. Anything and everything. Embrace the moment … Go out into the world and make something of yourself and love it,” Lingelbach told her fellow graduates.
Burrill’s speech began with Langston Hughes’ “Dreams,” and she encouraged her fellow graduates “hold fast to dreams.” Her speech likened the graduates’ lives to that of a bird, beginning as chicks in a small eggshell, that cracks and the world is exposed.
“We’ve grown up over the years with a lot of help from our family and friends,” she said.
“Now we are set free, ready to fly … We are the awesome class of 1999 here before you, ready to soar.”
Burrill then released seven white doves from a box that flew off into the horizon for her grand finale.
Katiia Nasher-Veske sang “The River,” an emotional and inspirational song and very appropriate conclusion to the salutatorian and valedictorian speeches.
As scholarships were awarded, the graduates cheered their classmates on in a flurry of red and white, the Wolverine colors.
Nancy Brewer, Nathania Frishman, Kristin Gorsuch and Susan Lingelbach sang “Count on Me” just before TTHS Principal Dennis LeBlanc presented the class of 1999 and awarded the eager graduates their diplomas.
Burrill then led the Changing of the Tassels, and the hats were thrown high into the sky.
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