PINEDALE – The Wrangler Gym was at full capacity. People stood in the doors between the Pinedale High School group and the storage cupboards. Others have retired to the corridors to get some fresh air.
It was graduation day. So many locals and loved ones wanted to wish the 2021 Pinedale and Skyline High School classes good luck that this was borderline fire risk.
Elder graduate Hailey Noble set the tone, welcoming those gathered and contextualizing this class. They’ve seen normal times, endured the toll of a pandemic, and emerged on the other side as successful high school graduates. Pinedale High manager Brian Brisko said he was moved as he watched the group of seniors gathered and sitting in the middle of the gymnasium. He said their experience included the worst two years of schooling he could imagine. He also introduced the two keynote speakers.
Reese Noble, the Salvatorian of the class, succeeded Brisko. She delivered an inspiring message, reminding them of how far they’ve come and how everything is prepared for what lies ahead.
“Looking at the world and our nation, we don’t even start to start,” she said. “We have an energy crisis, global warming, mass unemployment and more. So if you’re a little scared for our future, I don’t blame you. I’m too. It’s scary world out there, but I know our class can beat any odds. “
She stood in front of her classmates and reminded them that they could do whatever they wanted. And she encouraged her classmates to prove themselves no matter how small they are perceived to be.
Promotion Major Zoe Griffin followed by immediately lowering the microphone, noticing it was because she was petite and laughing. She kept that momentum going throughout. She got lots of laughs at failed bear spray stories, lifelike messages over college speakers, and activities everywhere. She also got the full gym to sing “Happy Birthday” to group teacher Justin Smith.
Griffin also put into context that few schools across the country were able to hold classes, dances, cattle judging contests, or sports in a conventional setting. Pinedale was able to do all of these things from fall through graduation.
She linked her speech with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that she had on her wall next to a poster of Dora the Explorer.
“By far the best price a life can offer is a chance to work hard at a job that is worth it,” she explained.
Looking back, she thought that pretty much summed up the time spent at Pinedale High School.
Brisko has dedicated time honoring all of the Congressional Award winners, two bronzes and one gold, from Pinedale. Carson Gregory and Reese Noble won bronze while Zoe Griffin was the school’s gold winner.
The choir and orchestra performed and a ceremonial slide show was presented in honor of all of the graduates. And following graduation, the students finally turned their tassels and let their caps fly. Finally, they were graduates.