Community celebrates Evanston High School grads

Graduates throw their caps toward a blue sky during an unexpectedly clement June 3 ceremony. After some indecision due to weather concerns, administrators chose to hold an outdoor ceremony, held in the newly renovated Kay Fackrell stadium at Evanston High School. (HERALD PHOTO/Hayden Godfrey)

EVANSTON — Evanston High School held an outdoor commencement for its 2023 graduating class Saturday morning, on the field of Kay Fackrell Stadium, before a crowd Principal Merle Lester estimated to contain 1,000 spectators. 

After Lester commended the graduates and thanked their support groups for getting them to that point, he presented a recording of “Star Spangled Banner,” performed by seniors in the EHS choir.

Senior class president Amelia Lester spoke about the disparity between student goals and accomplishments, citing “The Gap and The Gain” by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy.

“When you measure yourself backward instead of forward, you recognize that you’ve grown so much more than you may realize,” she said. “When you’re living in ‘the gain,’ you are grateful for your past experiences that have made you stronger.”

She encouraged her classmates to move toward aspirations with positivity, gratitude and self-appreciation.

“Let’s show the world how far we have come and how far we can go,” Lester said.

Student body president Maya Saavedra-Herrera thanked the faculty, staff and others who assisted in organizing graduation, as well as those who had contributed to the 2022 completion of the stadium. He said putting in hard work is a crucial component in all accomplishments.

“This is what the class of 2023 did,” he said. “For the past 12 to 13 years, those who overcame the hard times, challenges and obstacles sit here today and begin a new chapter of their lives.”

He credited teachers, parents and peer cooperation for making his class successful.

“We couldn’t have done it without you,” Saavedra-Herrera said.

He said in conclusion that, though their time in high school had concluded, he hoped he and his classmates would continue toward a successful future, reminiscing along the way.

In a brief interlude, the EHS orchestra performed “Remember Me” by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Salutatorian Hyrum Baxter asked his classmates where they saw themselves in 50 years and wondered what they will become.

“Vision is a great gift to everyone,” Baxter said, “but in life, it is often only utilized by the wise.”

He highlighted the importance of foresight in one’s endeavors, comparing blindly moving forward with replacing a car’s windshield with a mirror before driving it. He also emphasized the importance of character, calling it “the highest aspiration of humanity and the root of all good.” He encouraged his peers to work toward fulfilling their aspirations, so as not to despair over the people they could have been.

“My prayer is that each of you will choose a better fate,” he said.

After Baxter’s speech, the choir seniors performed “I’ll Be on My Way” by Shawn Kirchner.

James Williams gave his valedictorian address, claiming his highest aspiration entering high school was dating. He announced, getting some laughter from the crowd, that high school did not guarantee a girlfriend, and that a friend had finally told him he needed to speak to women in order to date them.

“College will be a very different place with this new information,” Williams said.

On a more serious note, he said high school had offered him cherished friendships. He compared the class to Triple Divide Peak at Montana’s Glacier National Park, from which rainwater can travel to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.

“We, the graduates of Evanston High School, are like these droplets of water — destined to separate and be taken down different paths,” Williams said.

He said the distinction between his peers and the water is that the former have a choice in which path to take. He said it is important to utilize this choice and make plans, whether these span one or 10 years.

“With a plan, you’re constantly striving to do better, to be a better person, to grow, because you always have a goal in mind...” he said. “Let us never forget to live intentionally, take control of our lives and our destinies.”   

EHS Vice Principal Scott Kohler presented the academic top 10 percent of students, then individual awards. He presented the Lois Michelstetter citizenship award to Aubrey Horrocks and Riley Kohler. The outstanding all-around student awards were presented to Horrocks and Dylan Liechty. Kohler presented the outstanding all-around athlete awards to Hadley Blackwell and Riley Kohler.

Uinta County School District Superintendent Ryan Thomas, after expressing his pride and advising them to live “toward the highest,” certified the graduates.

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