White River says goodbye to Class of 2005

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By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

With beach balls bouncing, Silly String sailing, light bulbs flashing and a few tears falling, the White River High School Class of 2005 left behind Buckley for the future - a future so bright, their motto claims, they have to wear shades.

Crammed into nearly two hours at the White River Amphitheatre June 21 were a chorus of choruses, speeches and honors.

Retiring White River School District Superintendent Jay Hambly kicked off the evening as key note speaker.

Hambly opened by sharing similarities between himself and the Class of 2005. Hambly said 13 years ago he came to the White River School District and 13 years ago the graduating seniors entered the school system as kindergartners.

He said he anticipates like himself, they leave with mixed emotions, happy and excited to begin a new chapter in their lives and sad to leave friends.

Hambly noted many recent classes had a special place in White River history. The Class of 1999, for example, was the last class to graduate in the 20th century and the Class of 2000 was the first to graduate in the 20th century. The Class of 2003 was the last class from the "old" White River High to graduate and the Class of 2004 was the first to graduate from the "new" high school.

The Class of 2005 is honored as the centennial class.

Hambly said the first White River High class graduated in 1905 and he acknowledged those first graduates - Kitty Robinson, John Jones, Lena Morrison and Arthur Williamson.

For fun, Hambly ran through a few facts from 1905. In 1905, the life expectancy of an adult was 48 years. A person's average income was $860. The price of a house was $2,400 and a new car would likely sell for $1,590.

A dime would by a quart of milk and a loaf of bread.

The tallest building in the world was Paris' Eiffel Tower. Father's Day and Mother's Day were not part of the calendar yet, and, Hambly said, to his shock 5 percent of young people graduated and one out of every 10 could read or write.

He said through those 100 years, thousands and thousands of memories had been made and hundreds of traditions set that make White River special.

Before departing the stage, Hambly left graduates with one piece of advice, "Think we, not me."

Hambly's speech was followed by the White River High chamber choir singing "All My Trials" by Roger Emerson.

Salutatorian Marci McGillivray, who graduated with a 3.98 grade-point average, thanked school board, administration, parents and teachers. She talked about growing up together and the uniqueness of this class. She said each student represents a puzzle piece and when they are all fit together they create a masterpiece.

Meg McCoy revved up the audience with her solo of the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces."

Valedictorian Adam Beerman, who leaves White River with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and is one of eight seniors who also earned an associate's degree from a local college, talked about the milestones that will resonate throughout each graduate's life and the importance of setting goals, big and small, and meeting them on the road to success.

Rebecca Boyt stepped to center stage to perform a song she wrote, "Roads Well Traveled."

WRHS Meisenbach Award winner Terry Veltkamp presented McGillivray with the White River High School Staff Inspirational Award and told the class to "give it everything you've got."

Then the 218 graduates made it official, criss-crossing the stage and picking up their diplomas. As each passed Hambly and retiring School Board member Peter Shook, they paused to carry on the White River tradition of handing over a penny, padding the retirement coffers of Hambly and Shook with $2.18.

Senior Class President Megan Marsh, in her last official role, sent the Class of 2005 out into the "real" world with a quick tassel-turning.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at

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