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Salem Hills, Spanish Fork, Timpview High grads prove they are adaptable

By Jared Lloyd daily Herald - | May 21, 2020
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Graduating senior Kerri Christensen waves to faculty and staff members as they cheer her on during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Salem Hills valedictorian Sam Davenport talks from the roof of the school during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Spanish Fork graduate Ellie Ash rides her horse Mack during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Language teachers, from right, Emily Perl, Kristen Holbrook and Shauna Palmer cheer on graduating seniors and their families as they process in vehicles during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork graduates (from left) Daxton Hill, Wyatt Davis, Jace Hanks and Wyatt Crandall walk in the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills senior class president Zachary Hunter talks from the roof of the school during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Graduating seniors make their way across the stage to receive their diplomas during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork graduate Piper Hess poses for a photo next to the rock at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Teachers sit on chairs in front of the assembled cars for the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Members of Max Clark’s family cheer him on as he receives his high school diploma during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork graduates pose with principal Matt Christensen (second from right) and assistant principal Jade Anderson (far left) at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills valedictorian Bryn Riley (right) receives her diploma during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A graduating senior’s vehicle drags cans through the procession during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Spanish Fork graduate Drake Knotts rides his bike through the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills graduates pose for a photo before the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Graduating senior Max Ricks cheers as he and his family go through the procession during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating senior Joshua Beutler points to faculty and staff members as they cheer him on during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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A graduating senior dances as a cutout of her is displayed on her family’s vehicle during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Signs encourage graduating seniors during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating senior Mercedee Halladay exits a limousine to receive her high school diploma during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating senior Jackson Bertasso laughs with administrators just after he received his high school diploma during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating seniors and their families process in vehicles during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating seniors and their families process in vehicles during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating seniors and their families process in vehicles during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating senior Kenzie Garvin cheers during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Graduating seniors and their families drive away after students received their diplomas during Timpview High School’s drive-thru diploma ceremony Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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A Spanish Fork graduate and her family cheer for a friend during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate receives a crown from his mom during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate from the back of his car during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate waves his cowboy hat as he prepares to get his diploma during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate walks with her dog during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate gets an elbow bump from principal Matt Christensen (right) during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate walks while her family drives next to her during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Spanish Fork graduates drive through the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Spanish Fork graduate sits in the back of a decorated pickup truck during the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Spanish Fork graduates drive through the procession at Spanish Fork High School on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills graduates drive into the parking lot for the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills teachers prepare for the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills graduates pose for a photos the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Signs and balloons decorate cars at the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills speakers (from left) Zachary Hunter, Bryn Riley, Sam Davenport and Bart Peery pose for a photo before the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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Salem Hills valedictorian Bryn Riley speaks from the roof of the school during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Salem Hills graduate listens to the speeches during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Salem Hills graduate listens to the speeches during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

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A Salem Hills graduate smiles after getting her diploma during the vehicle graduation ceremony at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Thursday, May 21, 2020.

Salem Hills senior class president Zachary Hunter joked at the beginning of his speech at graduation Thursday that if someone had told him he would have been speaking from the roof of the school it would’ve sounded like a weird dream.

Spanish Fork senior Ellie Ash said Thursday that up until three weeks ago, she would never have dreamed of riding her horse Mack to graduation.

Timpview senior class president Jackson Bertasso was part of the committee tasked to sift through all the graduation ideas and create something memorable for the Class of 2020.

There these seniors were, adapting and doing the unanticipated as they celebrated their respective graduations.

“This graduation is anything but typical, but it shouts to the world that you cannot be stopped,” Salem Hills principal Bart Peery told the graduates from the roof of the school during the vehicle graduation ceremony.

Since normal graduations were impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each school came up with its own ways to adapt.

At Salem Hills, graduates came with their families and parked their cars in the student parking lot as if they were going to a drive-in movie. Speakers shared short messages from Peery, Hunter and valedictorians Bryn Riley and Sam Davenport.

“In a time of uncertainty, we need to control how we react,” Hunter told his class. “I invite all of you to look for others in need. Look for the ones on the sidelines and bring them in.”

Riley said that her class is facing a number of unknowns right now and will have to take them on just like they did high school.

“I wish I had a road map right now, but I don’t — and that’s the beauty of life,” Riley said. “We aren’t here right now because of one big leap. We are here because of a bunch of small steps.”

Davenport said that times of crisis can bring people together.

“Take time to consider who needs your help,” Davenport said. “In difficult times, we can offer comfort to others and in doing so lift ourselves.”

Spanish Fork chose to do a procession where graduates rode to the event with their families, then exited the vehicles to walk past cheering teachers around the school until they reached the podium near the main entrance. There they received their diplomas and got the traditional graduation photo with the decorated rock.

It was a festive experience as horns blared, confetti flew and families cheered.

It also allowed students like Ash to be creative. Her horse Mack might not have enjoyed all the noise but she said it was “pretty exciting” to be able to ride him during the graduation procession.

Other Don students brought dogs, rode bicycles, or wore personal hats (baseball caps or cowboy hats, for example) with the tassel attached instead of the traditional mortarboards.

The speeches for Spanish Fork graduates were delivered virtually later in the day.

“Graduating from high school can be a scary time,” senior class president Andrew Radford told the Don seniors in the prerecorded video. “We may not know what we are going to do after high school — but that’s OK.”

Spanish Fork senior valedictorian Max Colton told his peers that they have invested a lot of time to get to this point in their lives.

“Any time you accomplish a goal, do something hard or cross a finish line, we’ve done something great,” Colton said in the video.

At Timpview in the evening, seniors also had their families drive next to them as they walked past teachers and up onto the stage to receive their diplomas while “Pomp and Circumstance” blared in the background.

For Bertasso, it was rewarding to see everything come together.

“It was so much better than I could’ve ever imagined,” Bertasso said. “I got choked up so many times. It’s just so cool.”

He said the challenge of deciding what to do was a daunting experience.

“It was crazy at first and really stressful,” Bertasso said. “There were a lot of ideas. I tried to keep positive about things, although I know a lot of people were getting down. We just tried to make graduation as good as we could.”

Timpview principal Fidel Montero said he was pleased with the balance between giving the students a great graduation experience and keeping people as safe as possible.

“Tonight is the crescendo for these students,” Montero said. “What I hope they take away is that although this class lost a lot in terms of experiences, I hope they gained something as well. When things got tough, they were able to grow and be strong. I hope this celebration embodies that spirit.”

Bertasso said his message to the Thunderbird Class of 2020 is that it is stronger now.

“We’ve made it,” Bertasso said. “Even when there are struggles, we can keep going and do hard things.”

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