There was one last class photo for Clarkston High School seniors Saturday and then they were gone, graduated, moving on to the next chapter in their lives.
About 170 students took part in the commencement ceremony at Lewis-Clark State College, along with hundreds of friends and family.
For Chelsey Carr and Kristin Cline, who have been friends since freshman year, graduation was something of a milestone, as well as a hurdle — an event marking a major turning point in their lives, and one last school chore.
“It’s kind of exciting seeing everyone we went to school with all together,” said Carr, 18. “Then we all go.”
She plans to stay in the area for a while longer, though. She’ll start classes at Walla Walla Community College in the fall, after which she hopes to study psychology at LCSC.
Cline, 17, is also sticking around. She wants to study environmental science at LCSC.
One graduate who won’t remain in the valley is 19-year-old Theo Baiye.
Baiye was easy to pick out of the crowd. He wore a pair of blood red slippers with gold studs and gold insects on them. They were traditional shoes from his home country of Cameroon, in Africa. He came to the area four-and-a-half years ago.
“I wanted to pursue my goal of becoming a soccer player, and getting a better education and better life,” he said.
He found a supportive environment in Clarkston.
“It’s a people-friendly place where they welcome you and take you in,” Baiye said.
He plans to study mechanical engineering at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash. — where he’ll also be playing soccer.
Like the other members of the Class of 2019, Cline, Carr and Baiye all got high-fives from Clarkston Principal Doug LaMunyan and other teachers and staff during the opening processional. Then they heard from Don Dotson, who has taught advanced placement biology for 30 years.
Dotson noted that “the purpose of education is to teach you how to think, not what to think.”
While his fellow teachers at Clarkston High share that sentiment, he worried that might not be the case once students leave its sheltered confines.
“You aren’t under our wings anymore, and that hurts,” Dotson said. “Now you have to go out into the real world — and there are people out there who believe it’s their right and duty to teach you what to think, not how to think.”
He encouraged students to determine for themselves what to believe and how to think about the world.
His most important advice, though, was to keep two things in mind — two questions that will affect every relationship in their lives: Do I matter? And am I loved?
“In every relationship you have, you need to allow the other person to answer yes to each of those questions,” Dotson said. “That’s the only way they’ll reach their full potential.”
Spence may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 791-9168.