The South Umpqua High School Class of 2021 reminds art teacher Emily Figueroa-Wolf of a crazy quilt.
These quilts, which began to be made in the 1800s, are made of colorful bits of cloth too small to do much else with. Each piece was unique and no pattern emerged when they were sewn together, she said.
“Each one of you is unique and awesome alone and together you are also amazing,” she told seniors at their graduation ceremony Friday.
The commencement ceremony was held at Kent Wigle Stadium.
Figueroa-Wolf, or as her students call her “Mrs. Fig,” was the guest speaker for the event and said she was very happy to be there in person.
She asked the graduating seniors to look around at their peers.
“You may not fit together like a puzzle, but you fit together like a crazy quilt. You represent the art, embellishment, technology and progress of 2021,” she said.
“You are meant to shine for what you are, each individual person together here as one for the last time,” she said.
She said she missed the kind of school year that ends with a ton of fun stories about the senior class.
But she did say this class does everything on its own terms, and is tenacious and unshakeable.
“They manage to irritate us and make us laugh at the same time, but they do not quit when someone said you can’t do that,” she said.
A lot of fun things were lost this year, from homecoming to sports in person to clubs and dances.
“You just lived through one of the most distinctive years of your life and one of the most unusual years in anyone’s life,” she said.
But, she said, this class gave her hope.
“Throughout this year, you have given me hope that things will get better, and your brave faces are the reason,” she said.
Principal Carl Simpson said the Class of 2021 made the best of a difficult year, capitalizing on every opportunity presented to them.
Simpson quoted Albert Einstein, who said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Senior Class President and valedictorian Dante’ James and salutatorian Kelci Rogers spoke together about the future of the Class of 2021.
James said they may be about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of their lives, but they won’t be on their own next year.
“We’ll have our experiences to guide us,” she said.
Rogers asked her fellow students to remember that they will create their own fate.
“To quote ex-President George Bush, ‘To those of you who received honors awards and stations I say well done, and to the C students I say you too may one day be president of the United States,’” she said.