LHS Class of 2022 graduates ponder the future

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Lebanon High School’s Class of 2022, joined by their families and friends, packed the campus’ Heath Stadium Tuesday, June 7, for the first “return to normal” graduation ceremony since 2019.
Some 240 students graduated this year from Lebanon schools, including 173 from LHS, 49 from Ralston Academy and 18 from East Linn Christian Academy. As seniors settled into their last few months without COVID-19 restrictions, their respective schools’ administrations resumed proper ceremonies. ELCA held its graduation on June 4.
In 2020, LHS gave students a three-day ceremony that allowed them to receive their diplomas one at a time by walking through the auditorium with only their families in attendance. The Class of 2021 used the stadium, but graduates were limited to four guests and seating arrangements observed social-distancing protocols.

Principal Craig Swanson addresses the students.

Principal Craig Swanson noted that the pandemic made the last three years abnormal, but he commended the Class of 2022 for setting the tone for a great year.
“We started this year in masks, mandatory distancing and classroom capacity limits,” he said. “We thought outside the box so we could enjoy this year rather than complain about how it used to be.”
Swanson listed reasons the class should be proud, including the sports teams that made it to state playoffs and the students who earned statewide and national titles, as well as those who organized COVID-responsible events to boost school spirit. He also expressed appreciation for the record number of scholarship monies awarded this year by the community and sponsors.
Lebanon’s six valedictorians included Payton Drummond, Jacob Greve, Laurel McGuigan, Faith Roos, Emma Veuleman and Mark Workman. Syian Phillips was salutatorian.
Drummond discussed achieving her goal to become valedictorian.
“It’s a crazy, wonderful thing to see a dream that you’ve set yourself for seven years come to fruition,” she said. “Dreams do come true if you want them badly enough.”
She thanked her teachers at Lacomb School, where she learned to be her own person and made her greatest friends. She thanked her older brother, Tucker, who provided “sibling competition” that pushed her to be her best, and her parents, who provided love and support.
Greve examined the definition of success, having realized it had little to do with money and validation, but more about being like SpongeBob SquarePants, who “spends his days flipping patties at the Crusty Crab and jelly-fishing with his best friend Patrick,” or about Joey Tribbiani from the TV sitcom “Friends,” who achieved worldly success but found it meaningless without his best friend, Chandler.
McGuigan advised her classmates that their high school journeys were not the proverbial “best years of their lives.”
“We have barely scratched the surface of what life has to offer us,” she said.
However, she admitted that some of those years were wonderful, like the time students broke the football stand and Principal Swanson carried the piece around “triumphantly,” or the times they would yell at the top of their lungs in attempts to win “that darn spirit stick.”

VALEDICTORIAN Payton Drummond thanks family and her Lacomb teachers for helping her become her own person.

Roos said she was proud to proclaim that “blondes aren’t all that dumb,” and that although they spent much of their high school years at home, the members of the 2022 class still found ways to leave their mark. Their time was interrupted by a period of isolation that made them struggle “to cope without the outlet of social interaction, sport or extracurricular activities,” she said, but now they were able to better appreciate the “seemingly insignificant things that make life so special.”
Workman wanted to acknowledge those who helped the class reach this day, thanking teachers for their passion and their sacrifices.
“We truly are standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said.
He also quoted Mike Tyson’s maxim, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Life will derail even the best of plans, he said, making it important to be surrounded by supportive people.
Before calling up graduates to receive their diplomas, Swanson pointed out the school district’s vision to pursue excellence for every student. Each graduate, he said, has hit the mark.
“You are excellent, and I congratulate you,” he said. “Please continue that pursuit of excellence into the future. Society needs you to lead us into the future and I’m confident that this class of 2022 is ready to do just that.”