Roseburg High School’s Class of 2021 held its graduation ceremony Saturday at Finlay Field.
It hadn’t been easy for them to get there.
As RHS math teacher Laurie Way noted in her message to the graduates Saturday, they had spent 31.25% of their high school career during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Way asked the graduates not to let that 31.25% define their memories of high school.
“So much of life is not what happens to us, but how you respond to it, and you Class of 2021, you have responded well,” she said.
She said they exemplified “carpe diem,” Latin for “seize the day,” a phrase popularized in the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society.”
“Do not wait for another day to make things happen,” she advised them.
“Visit the places you wish to visit, travel and explore. Do not sit still and hope that the right time will come along. Instead, make time to fulfill your hopes and dreams right now,” she said.
She urged them to continue to seek knowledge, to give back to their community and to start to make the world a better place.
“Be thankful, kind, slow to anger and fill your hearts with joy, love and faithfulness. Do only good every day,” she said.
Valedictorian Camille Dela Cruz said the pandemic was the hardest thing the Class of 2021 had ever faced, but “we have persevered and become stronger together.”
“Yes the pandemic is still current, but it will soon become a part of our past, a part of history,” she said.
Today, she said, is a gift.
“We should all focus on the gifts of the present but also hope for and dream about what the future holds while still remembering the past,” she said.
She said all the students have learned that difficult times don’t last forever.
“We as a class are going to create a more hopeful and better future,” she said.
She said she hoped everyone there would become successful in whatever way they defined success.
“I wish everyone the best and hope everyone lives life with a little spice, not just salt and pepper, in their lives in the future,” she said.
Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon said he was proud of the graduates and excited for the accomplishments they will continue to make.
He urged them to harness the power of believing in themselves.
“Believe that you can accomplish your goals, regardless of what anybody says and regardless of where you find yourself in life. Seize that belief,” he said.
And he encouraged them to find ways to be of service to others.
“It has been wisely said that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” he said.
There is nothing that provides more joy, more purpose and more clarity than that, he said.
After the speakers concluded, the students lined up, row after row, to receive their diplomas.
And then, after a few closing words from Principal Jill Weber, the RHS Class of 2021 arrived at the end of their uniquely challenging high school experience and the commencement of the rest of their lives.