LHS Class of 2001 takes wing

June 03, 2001 11:00 pm
COMMENCEMENT HARMONY: Members of La Grande High School's A Capella Choir perfrom during Saturday's commencement. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
COMMENCEMENT HARMONY: Members of La Grande High School's A Capella Choir perfrom during Saturday's commencement. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande High Schools graduating seniors were urged to salute the the wind beneath their wings Saturday.

Commencement speaker Don Ulrey, the La Grande School Districts curriculum and personnel director, asked the Class of 2001 to salute their parents.

Make your parents your heroes. They are the wind beneath your wings ... Your parents are the first and most important people in your lives, Ulrey said.

Ulrey asked students to get to know everything they can about their parents before it is too late. Ulrey spoke from the heart. He recalled that his mother died 10 years ago and that there are things about her that he longs to know but does not because he did not ask.

Ulrey encouraged graduates to look to their teachers, friends and relatives as heroes. He said that heroes have vision and passion. They are risk takers people of action, and self managers who lead balanced lives.

Ulrey said that LHSs faculty and the Class of 2001 are filled with heroes. He cited business teacher Molly Brog and music teacher Michael Frasier as those who can be considered heroes. Ulrey praised Brog for how much she cares about her students and Frasier for his concern about students and a passion that is unbelievable.

Ulrey said that graduating seniors Jessica Dowdy, Ann-Marie Ely, Brad Hagedorn, Lindsey Joseph, Devin Orton and Chad Trisler are also among those who have the qualities of heroes.

Ulrey said that outgoing La Grande School District Superintendent Jerry Sessions is also a hero. He is a visionary leader. He gave more than he received, said Ulrey.

Sessions is leaving at the end of this month to become superintendent of the Hood River County School District. Ulrey is also leaving. He will become the personnel and curriculum director of Baker School District 5J at the end of the month.

Ulrey concluded his graduation address with a gesture of goodwill. He took $300 from his wallet and offered it as a prize for a drawing for those who attended the seniors drug and alcohol free graduation party.

Others who spoke at Saturdays commencement included a number of LHSs 13 valedictorians. Zach Lauritzen urged his classmates to step forward when they see injustices. Dont live life as bystander. Voice your opinion for what is moral and just, Lauritzen said.

Co-valedictorian Kimberly Wood encouraged students to take chances. Only a person who takes risks can truly be free. Dont let this opportunity for freedom pass you by, Wood said.

Co-valedictorian Erin Maier told her classmates about what she has learned about compassion during her time at LHS. I have learned that if you want to cheer yourself up try cheering someone else up, Maier said. Whenever I make a decision with kindness I usually make the right decision.

Saturdays commencement included a number of musical performances. Co-valedictorians Maria Carmichael and Jeff Scott both performed songs with accompaniment provided by Nate Pettit. The LHS Band and A Capella Choir also performed.

One of the final commencement presentations was given by LHS Principal Jeff Kleck, who is resigning at the end of the month after three years as principal and 23 as an educator.

Kleck asked students to follow the motto he has long adhered to love people when they come into your life and love them when they leave, regardless of what has happened.

Kleck is leaving to take a position as an account representative with Transworld Systems Inc., a firm that provides services for 50,000 businesses in the United States.

Kleck will be based in La Grande.

He said the opportunity to work with students was his source of motivation throughout his career.

You inspired me, Kleck said.