TRI CITY — With hardly a mortar board left undecorated, South Umpqua’s graduating class was recognized for its individuality and eccentricity during Friday’s ceremony at Loghry Field.

“This class is definitely what you’d call extra,” said speaker and art teacher Emily Figueroa-Wolf said. “They all stayed true to who they are, they couldn’t even agree on a senior skip day.”

Figuero-Wolf embraced her own individuality by wearing a green flowery jumpsuit on stage, while administrators and board members showed up in suits and pant suits.

Figuero-Wolf, or Miss Fig as she is known to her students, started working at South Umpqua High School the same year the graduating class started its freshman year.

“She is such an inspirational figure to us all,” said Paige Wheeler, SUHS senior class president.

Figuero-Wolf advised graduates to travel, fail at something and be kind. She encouraged the students to “really leave home at least once,” learn from their failures and stay kind to all around them.

She shared the inspirational words of stand-up comedian and MMA commentator Joe Rogan, “Be the hero of your own movie,” and from television’s Michael Scott of “The Office,” “Sometimes you have to take a break from being the kind of boss that’s always trying to teach people things. Sometimes you just have to be the boss of dancing.”

The ceremony took place outdoors on the football field, with family and friends filling the stands.

Despite a downpour before the start of the ceremony, it stayed dry throughout the rest of the evening. But while diplomas were handed out one of the canopies covering the band was picked up by the wind and dropped down a few feet away. Staff members quickly folded the shelter up to avoid further distractions.

South Umpqua’s band also performed a special song during the ceremony, several of the graduates took part in this final performance.

Jenna Castro was valedictorian of the Class of 2019, Tayah Kelley served as salutatorian.

The program also listed three pages of students who had received scholarships, with nearly $500,000 in scholarships and grants going to South Umpqua’s most recent graduates.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203.

Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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