June 16, 2021 — On Friday, June 11, more than 70 Siuslaw seniors filed into the high school gym for their last processional as high school students. The ceremony was a little different this year, with a masked audience, chairs placed six feet apart and a reduced number of guests. However, more than 800 people were able to view the event through a livestream hosted by KCST/KCFM Coast Radio and available to view on YouTube.
Commentary throughout the ceremony was provided by Bob Sneddon, a member of Siuslaw School Board and radio host, and Steven Moser, high school counselor.
“This is just a very great group of students,” Moser said. “I know I say it every year, but this particular group is very special and I will miss them.”
Sneddon announced the graduates as they walked into the gym and under the balloon arch with the school colors. The students wore the traditional graduation regalia, along with facemasks required for indoor gatherings under safety requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel they're all happy to be here, but occasionally you'll see one of them walking down the aisle and you can tell when they have a huge smile on your face,” Sneddon said.
“Yes, you can see it in the eyes, even if they're wearing a mask,” Moser agreed.
One special component of graduation this year was that all graduates, including those who received GEDs, were honored during the ceremony.
Siuslaw High School Principal Garth Gerot welcomed the seniors and their guests, saying, “Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate the Siuslaw High School Class of 2021 as they conclude their high school education. These students have overcome tremendous obstacles to get here tonight and have demonstrated incredible resilience and perseverance.”
During the ceremony, Florence Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3232 presented colors and the Siuslaw High School Choir led the National Anthem.
Next, presentations were given by the Outstanding Senior Girl Brea Blankenship and Outstanding Senior Boy Elijah Blankenship.
For Brea, she said the defining characteristic of the Class of 2021 is that it is a class of leaders.
“I think it's because of leadership in this class that we were able to make the most of our senior year given the circumstances,” she said. “We went into this year optimistic, knowing that it was unlikely we would ever get a normal senior year, but we remained determined to keep the traditions alive.”
As for Elijah, “We learned that we can make the best out of our circumstances and it just requires us taking action. Most importantly, we've learned that we need to take responsibility for our own successes.”
Next, Siuslaw School Board members Paul Burns and John Barnett joined faculty members Max Perry and Sean O’Mara in presenting diplomas to the seniors.
Elijah read the roll, announcing each senior’s honors as they crossed the podium to shake hands and receive their diplomas. In addition, each graduate received a sunflower as they returned to their seats.
Then, Gerot and Vice Principal Dave Goetz directed the seniors to move their tassels from right to left.
“On behalf of the Siuslaw School Board of Directors, Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak, the teachers and staff of Siuslaw High School and the rest of the Siuslaw School District, it is our pleasure to introduce the Siuslaw High School graduated Class of 2021,” the administrators said.
The graduates tossed their hats before walking out to the class song, “Six Feet Apart” by Luke Combs, and greeting the gathered guests.
In all, 72 diplomas were distributed during the ceremony out of 94 total graduates.
For Moser, who is moving out of state at the end of the school year, “We felt this year it was very pertinent to go back and honor everybody for their accomplishments. And to those students who weren't able to make it tonight, a shout out from the staff. We believe in every student who comes into these doors and leaves these doors. We wish only the best for them. Even though they couldn’t be here tonight, they're definitely in our thoughts and they will they always will be. We wish them the best of luck.”
People can view the Siuslaw graduation at Siuslaw High School Events on YouTube or by visiting Siuslaw.k12.or.us.