SLIDESHOW: White River High School 2009 Graduation

It was a full house at the White River Amphitheatre June 9 as 250 White River High School seniors from the Class of 2009 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

"I'm proud of this class," principal and master of ceremonies Mike Hagadone said. "They've laid a strong foundation for all the classes that will be following in their footsteps."

Of the 250 graduates, Hagadone noted 55 percent plan to attend a two- or four-year college or school after graduation. Twenty seniors graduated with an associate of arts degree earned while they were attending high school.

Nearly $741,000 was awarded in scholarships, including the $750 prize and a portable DVD player that is attached to the White River High School Staff Inspirational Award. An annual gift is presented to a student by the school's staff.

This spring's Meisenbach Award Winner, teacher Lynnette Nyland, presented Ronnie Russell with the honor.

Russell, who shared salutatorian honors with Christian Lobdell, was described by teachers as "motivated," "academically inspiring" and "brilliant."

"This student challenged me to be a better teacher every day," teacher Karen Fugate said.

Before the night ended, validictorian Brandon Skyles talked about White River students jumping in to the world "cannonball style" during his speech titled "Free At Last."

"We're going to get everybody wet," he said. He also told how this class had obligations and how the future of the immediate community – and a much wider base – depends on how the graduates handle that obligation.

The evening also included selections by the White River High band and a musical selection by the choir, "May It Be" from "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring."

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