North Tahoe High graduates charged to seek competency, not complacency |

North Tahoe High graduates charged to seek competency, not complacency

Jason Shueh/Sierra SunAs is customary for North Tahoe graduates, 2011 students decorated their caps with a variety of graphics.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; After a few foiled attempts to get the podium speaker working, after intermittent adjustments and the jostling of cords and#8212; his voice fading in and out and#8212; Principal Michael McDowell, dressed in dark shades and a flowing black robe, finally got out what he wanted to say to his one and only graduating class, the North Tahoe High School class of 2011.

and#8220;Graduates I’m here today to give you one simple message: Competence is currency,and#8221; McDowell said.

As part of his welcoming address at Tuesday’s graduation, McDowell stressed that and#8212; notwithstanding the calamities of the current day, the tottering economy, wars and fears of tomorrow’s job markets and#8212; vocational competency will always be in demand.

Competency is a virtue, McDowell said, that if pursued diligently, would allow graduates no matter their age or experience to succeed in uncertain times.

and#8220;The generational debate is a mute point. It won’t be age or experience that will be required today or tomorrow and#8212; it will be competence my friends,and#8221; he said. and#8220;What makes people successful in all facets of life is competency, and that requires the will and fortitude to pursue. This path will fill your soul, your mind and your plate.and#8221;

McDowell’s welcoming speech was followed by senior speakers Carly Leininger, Kelsey Wittels and Roxana Cabrera, chosen from the student body to speak.

Leininger compared her classmates to freshly baked cookies, metaphorically using the example to illustrate the graduates’ preparation and readiness to take on the world.

Wittels dubbed her class as a special generation, labeling graduates as a part of a generation that was born within a time of emerging technology and innovation, a trait she said will help them excel through innovation.

Cabrera spoke of the class’ drive and determination to succeed.

and#8220;No one can tell us we can’t (accomplish something)and#8221; Cabrera said.

And while there were ample motivational comments from speakers, a comment that received a great deal of chuckles belonged to Salutatorian Emily Ashbaugh and#8212; also accompanied in her address by fellow Salutatorian Brian Tidd.

and#8220;The great thing about a poor economy is that you can do a whole lot of things without a whole lot riding on your success,and#8221; Ashbaugh said, jokingly deflecting the often-times gloomy economic outlook for young adults.

Recognition of Summa Cum Laude Valedictorians Michelle Cahill, Salvotore Monforte, Kelsey Wittels and Nicole Younger followed, with Monforte giving the final address.

He challenged his classmates to not look back, but forward, as they remember rooms filled with memories from high school and seek to fill new rooms with new memories.

and#8220;Class of 2011, you better go out and fill those rooms, so when we meet again in 10 years, we’ll have some classic stories to tell,and#8221; Monforte said, closing his speech.

The ceremony ended with recognition of retiring school counselor Penny Burney as an honorary graduate.

Check out a full photo gallery from Tuesday’s commencement on the Sun’s Facebook page. Just go to and search for “” Or, to purchase any, visit the Sun’s online gallery at

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