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Spearfish High School honors graduates

May 21, 2019

SPEARFISH — Approximately 150 seniors were honored Sunday afternoon at Spearfish High School.

Inside the gymnasium, packed with family and friends, they crossed the stage, receiving their diplomas from school board members.

“The senior class of 2019 has met the requirements set forth by the board of education and are now ready to receive their diploma from Spearfish High School,” said Principal Steve Morford moments before the students crossed the stage.

Mistie Caldwell, the board’s vice president, served as the guest speaker. She recalled attending her own high school graduation from Spearfish 30 years ago as part of the Class of 1989.

In preparing her remarks for her speech she turned to her senior memory book, specifically page from which she highlighted her future plans. That plan laid out her life ambitions — where she would attend college, her job, her marriage plans, and so forth.

Some of those plans turned out as noted; most turned out differently. “Art is still a passion, but the 18-year-old Mistie wasn’t able to find that passion until she experienced frustration, failure, insecurity, and the realization that the dream I had is there, just in a different form,” Caldwell said.

She encouraged graduates to embrace every experience.

“Thirty years ago, if you told me this is where I would be, I would have laughed. Heck, I probably would have cried … but guess what. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. This is where I am meant to be today and all the life experiences - the good and the challenging, they got me there.”

The day was particularly meaningful for Caldwell as her younger daughter, Sophia Caldwell, graduated as salutatorian.

Jay Sayler was this year’s valedictorian.

Student Council President Taylor Hersch and Sayler, who was also the senior class president, awarded Elise Fowlkes with the Outstanding Teacher Award. Fowlkes was named the district’s teacher of the year in March.

The senior choir members performed “We’re All in This Together,” and Thomas Friedrich served as the senior class speaker.

“In this room there are about 150 people about to enter the world in a way they never have before. I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I know things are never going to be the same,” Friedrich said. “Outside there is a possibility of extraordinary experiences. Some of you will go on to travel the country. Others will travel the globe. All of us will encounter something different, weird, a little unpleasant. But if we can toss our inhibitions aside and fling ourselves into a mud pit Wednesday then we can try that food … or learn that new skill, try that activity we’re unsure of, climb mountains, getting dirty, getting into life. If we can close our eyes and really dive in, what really seems so bad rarely turns out that way. And maybe it’s the unusual that we will enjoy more than the ordinary.”

He gave an example of eating a cracker made from shrimp and found it to be disgusting.

“Part of trying new things is recognizing not everything will be great,” Friedrich said. “… Not every new experience can be good. Sometimes we try the disgusting cracker. … Eat the cracker because part of us is still curious in spite of your fears. Eat the cracker because if you don’t, you won’t have a story to tell.”

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