Congratulations class of 2011.
In the words of Dr. Seuss, “You’re off to great places. You’re off and away.” Parents, grandparents, friends and teachers crowded together on the bleachers at Payson High School Thursday night to applaud 164 graduates and send them on their way.
Forty graduates declared they are headed to a university to further their education, while 42 will attend a vocational or community college, five will serve a mission with their church, 13 will go straight into the work force, four are joining the armed forces, seven are undecided and 53 students were too busy to fill out the survey.
The class is the second in PHS history to earn more than $1 million in scholarships with the class raking in $1.1 million — $59,000 of that from local organizations.
One of the top earners is Jacquelyn Oesterblad, PHS valedictorian and Flinn and National Merit scholarship winner, receiving more than $80,000.
Before Oesterblad could head to the University of Arizona, however, she had one last assignment to fulfill — delivering a speech.
“We are not going to change the world because the world is bigger than we are,” Oesterblad said.
Being among the billions of humans that have walked the Earth, our existence is inconsequential. If we were not in it, the world would keep spinning. Despite this, live your life, be present, be human, but don’t expect to change the world. Live the life you have and exist, she added.
Salutatorian Daniel Conley took inspiration from the “incomparable Dr. Seuss” quoting the poem “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!”
Afterward, he paid tribute to everyone that led him to where he is today. Conley especially thanked chemistry teacher Cynthia Pool, whose sudden death in 2009 during a cross-country bike trip, left a hole in many hearts, but also a lesson to live each day to the fullest.
“She taught me to seize every opportunity,” he said. “Each of us has an opportunity to change a life and that is what matters.”
Co-salutatorian Caleb Harrison added, “you are all meaningful individuals and you can do anything you set your mind to.”