Sutherlin High School graduates, their families, friends and teachers gathered Sunday for a graduation celebration in the warm sun at the football field.

It was the first time in more than 35 years the graduation was held outside. Graduation has taken place inside the gymnasium for decades, but due to repairs from the snowstorm in February, the venue was not available this year.

Sutherlin High School technology teacher Ron Owings was selected by the senior class as the graduation speaker, although he said “I constantly forget their names, I forget what sport they’re in, I don’t know whether they’re in ag, drama, art, woods, band, choir or Special Olympics or some other activity. I think it was an electronic vote where one of my techy kids I do know well opened up a command prompt with administrative rights wrote a little backscript and I won by that vote.”

Owings, as well as all the other speakers, thanked the parents and families of the graduates for their support throughout their high school careers.

“All of these people suffered through the good times and the bad times for the last 12 years,” Owings said. “We pushed, pleaded and begged for you to do simple things: get out of bed, get to school on time, do your homework, go to practice, get your grades up, get motivated or just get off that stupid phone. The teachers were just simply trying to do their jobs, parents and everyone else were just trying to show you they care or to let you know they didn’t want you to live with them for the rest of your lives.”

He then shared some advise — he admittedly borrowed from Ygritte, a wildling from the Game of Thrones television show — by telling the graduates, “You know nothing of reality. This is one of those life changing events that, ready or not, it’ll change you forever. Only you can determine if it’s good or bad.”

Owings encouraged the graduates to “find a positive reason to exist on the planet.”

Keaten Clarno and Aisia Carrillo were co-valedictorians and shared some of their most memorable times in the Sutherlin school system with the people in attendance.

Senior Class President Sydnee Allen read the names of all the graduated aloud as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Sutherlin High School Principal Kevin Hunt started the ceremony by announcing the faculty selections, scholarship winners and top 10% academic award recipients.

“They are now prepared to enter adulthood and the real world,” Hunt said. “Whether that be pursuing post-secondary education, military service or entry into the workforce, today is the day that signifies the closure to one chapter in life and the beginning of the next. I have high hopes for this class.”

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