Payson Grads Soak Up Spirit

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Despite heavy rain Saturday morning, Mother Nature did not rain on the parades of Payson High School's 156 graduating seniors.

But it did make for a harried morning as school officials and parents rushed to move the ceremony from its planned location the school's football field into the auditorium.

"It started lightly raining about midnight (Friday)," said Don Heizer, the school's head guidance counselor. "When I got up at 5, the first thing I did was go to the Internet to look at the satellite map. It didn't look pretty."

At about 6:30 a.m., Heizer said, the decision was made to move the 10 a.m. ceremony inside. By 7 a.m., a number of students' fathers were at the school, waiting to see if the move was going to be made and if they could pitch in and help.

"They all did an absolutely wonderful job of making the shift," Heizer said. "That's what I find the norm to be in Payson. When there's a job to be done, people show up, work together, and get the whole thing done. We had kids in the chairs for graduation rehearsal by 8:30 in the morning. And at 10 o'clock, we marched them out."

The location of the graduation wasn't the only switch necessitated by the stormy weather. Senior Laura Perham, who was to address her classmates and the audience of 2,200 friends and family members, had originally written a satire of the already-satirical spoken-word song, "Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen," which she had retitled, "Everybody's free to Wear Sunglasses." By the time Perham hit the stage, however, she had retooled the whole speech, which then bore the title, "Everybody's Free to Have an Alternative Rain Plan."

Among Perham's suggestions were, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed ... Get enough sleep ... Do not even attempt to ad-lib Shakespeare ... Always remember that you're unique, just like everyone else ... Laugh ... Be nice to your teachers; they don't get paid enough to be your babysitter ... Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes ... Don't worry. Everything will turn out all right in the end. If it's not all right, then it's not the end."

It was all right in the end for 156 of 174 PHS seniors who walked to the stage to retrieve their graduation diplomas.

All in all, Heizer said, the PHS graduating ceremony of 2001 "was a really enjoyable ceremony. The rain was the only hitch."

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