At commencement, a village is celebrated

At graduation Friday, the village gained its due.

In keeping with the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, all who bolstered the young men and women of the Class of 2003 earned credit on the night when the 249 graduates received their diplomas.

“Now you are letting us walk on our own,” senior Ryan Kawachi said to parents in his welcoming remarks to the 1,500 people gathered under the bright sun in three sets of grandstands and chairs on the football field. “To the teachers: I know we are all going to miss you a great deal,” Kawachi said. “You have taught us respect and intelligence and we have so much when we think of you.

“To students: don’t look back with regrets. Look forward to knowing you can make a difference.”

It was a night when one man who made a big difference at his alma mater, Gary Fisher, earned the annual Volunteer of the Year award from HRVHS, for rallying community donations and the work needed to complete Eagle Project 2003, a new plaza and restroom facility that opened at the north end of Henderson Stadium just in time for the ceremony.

“I am just so proud of this entire community,” Fisher said.

Ten valedictorians were recognized for their 4.0 grade point averages through the past four years: Carly Cannell, Daniel Chance, Jasmine Cohen, Jodie Gates, Lauren Gaulke, Elise Meierbachtol, Rebecca Meierbachtol, Ashley Nunamaker, Corinne Oates, and Christy Paul.

“The teachers make them work really hard to get that perfect grade,” said co-principal Martha Capovilla, who also paid tribute to the contributions of many people in getting every graduate through 13 years of schooling.

“Every bus ride, every meal served, every lesson has become a part of what these young men and women are today,” Capovilla said, adding, “Your parents’ commitment to you doesn’t end tonight. It just takes on a new shape.” Superintendent Rick Eggers echoed that theme in issuing “one last assignment” to the seniors. He started his remarks by noting that many of the grads have lived in Hood River County all their lives while some have been here just a year or so.

“No matter how long you have been here, your formal education with the district is over,” he said. “Look around you. This is a beautiful place. It is a special place, but your relationship with the schools ends tonight. But you are not exactly on your own. We school people, we’re done, but (your families) are not. They are still there for you.” Then came the last assignment.

“Find that special person in the audience,” Eggers said. “Go on, look out there and make eye contact with them. Look them in the eye for a moment. Look at that person. Their love is unconditional.”

Class speaker Christy Paul added her own twist to her address to the Class of 2003.

She began by saying she remembered, as a kindergartener at Mid Valley Elementary, being told she had to finish a project in five minutes. “I was so worried. Did it mean I had to stay after school? Would I have to stay in the school overnight and miss the bus home?”

“It’s amazing how much things have changed, including our fears,” Paul said. As she grew, the fears had to do with wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, and behaving in the right ways around the right people, or risking public embarassment.

“When I got to be a senior I laughed at the fears I’d had,” Paul said. “But frankly, I stand today before you afraid: afraid of what the future holds. Because we have been prepared to be part of the real world but the real world has morphed into something we don’t even recognize,” Paul said, referring to fears of conflict in the Middle East, of nuclear proliferation, and of increasing global religious hatred.

“We are now facing things we do not understand and that scares us,” Paul said. “But fear can stop us in our tracks and stop us from going places. But I say to seniors as well as other students and parents: look at fear from a new perspective. Instead of turning away from your fears, face them head on. Interpret fear as a challenge to make the future a more interesting, exciting, and worthwhile place.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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