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One journey ends as another begins PHS graduates 32 in the class of 2015


Mary Koppes / Petersburg Pilot

The Petersburg High School class of 2015 throw their mortarboards to celebrate graduation. Thirty-two students received diplomas at Wednesday night's ceremony, and over $75,000 in local scholarships were awarded.

You're free to make your own choices now; don't be afraid to head out into the open ocean. That was the advice 2015 Petersburg High School Valedictorian Kyle Hagerman gave his peers during his graduation speech Wednesday evening at the high school gym.

Thirty-two seniors graduated this year, "a group honestly, of both boys and girls, that got things done and did them at a high, high level," Principal Rick Dormer said.

Dormer shared a story about surviving a flood during his college years at Oregon State University, when he worked a tough diner job to afford living off campus as his on-campus apartment had filled with water. He met his future wife, though, and some of his best friends shortly after.

"When the floods come, graduates, persevere" he said.

Salutatorian Aaron Murph told stories that held both humor and advice, like the time he played hunter with his friends, who were the animals, and covered an arrow tip with a sock, shooting Evan Marsh in the head at close range. Marsh tore the sock off and chased after him, "pelting" Murph with the arrow.

"The life lesson of the story is you may think you know the rules of the game, but they can change quickly against your favor," he said.

Ben Zarlengo and Shalie Dahl gave the class history, sharing laughs like the time Ian Fitz thought it'd be funny to steal a squid, meant for dissecting, and microwave it, making the building smell for several weeks. They also recounted the knowledge their teachers taught them, such as science teacher Vic Trautman's advice to go for what they want, as there's no eagle that's going to drop prosperity in their laps.

Zarlengo added that while his graduating class is great, he wants the next to learn from them and be even better.

Beau Ward, who teaches English in the high school and language arts in Mitkof Middle School, was this year's speaker.

He spoke of studies that suggest a person's personality is made up of 50 percent genetics, 40 percent random events and 10 percent shared environment.

"If so much is beyond your control, what is the point?" he asked. "The point is this: even if our genetic makeup and who we are is beyond our control, an understanding of this can help us in our approach to our own lives, how we relate to others and how we find meaning and purpose for ourselves."

Mary Koppes / Petersburg Pilot

Valedictorian Kyle Hagerman speaks to the class of 2015, family and community members assembled for the ceremony.

He suggested the graduates take the time to observe themselves and understand who they are.

The brain enjoys being challenged as it's rewarded with neurotransmitters that make people feel good, he said, so "my wish for you is that as you go forward in life, you can occupy your brain in a way that fits with who you are."

It's why parents and faculty have pushed them to work hard and use those brains, he added, because that's "the key to success and satisfaction."

Murph called graduation the end of one long journey and the beginning of a new one.

This year, local businesses and organizations gave $75,450 in scholarships to help the graduates with their future endeavors. With outside scholarships, such as those from universities, the total amount was over $1 million.


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