Most graduation ceremonies include music, but few graduating classes are serenaded by their keynote speakers.
The Soldotna High School class of 2002 was an exception.
As one of the two speakers chosen by the class approached the stage in the SoHi auditorium Wednesday night, he carried with him a guitar.
"Buck George," announced valedictorian Ben Histand. "Our head custodian and lead guitarist."
"Before I came to SoHi, I was at K-Beach. My first year, some of you were sixth-graders, halfway through your education," George said. "I can't tell you how warm it makes me to see the young men and women you've become. So here you go."
With that, George, accompanied by four other musicians, launched into "Your Life is Now."
"Your high school days are lost to you," he sang.
"This is your time to do what you will do. Your life is now."
The song was a fitting interlude in a night filled with fond memories, sighs of relief and dreams of the future.
"There is a famous painting titled, 'Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?'" Histand told his classmates. "I've never seen this painting, but those are the three questions I want to ask you tonight.
"My message to you is take pride in where you come from, know who you are and plan for the future."
The graduates did just that, celebrating the past four years of laughter and tears with a slide show, honoring with roses those who supported them and listening to the advice of their class leaders and educators.
"Think of tonight not as the completion of your education, but the beginning of it," advised valedictorian Janna Schaafsma. "Continue to seek out new things and challenge yourself."
"This night is a door that opens to infinite possibilities," added student body president Jenna Pitts.
And, concluded Danielle Pettijohn, always remember the "stars" -- strive, think, achieve and respect.
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