On the Beat column artwork

Graduation ceremonies never get old. I’ve lost count exactly how many I’ve covered as a reporter through the years, although I’ve now been to the last seven at Philomath High School. It’s a chance to see students that I’ve known from interviews, activities and sports move on to the next phase of their lives.

Last year’s split ceremony was one of the more unique experiences just because of the circumstances but it was great to see this year’s class get together for one, single event. The grandstands were mostly full and masks weren’t required. You could see people’s faces. It was a somewhat bizarre feeling to be around so many people without a mask.

I’ll share a few of the highlights that I jotted down in my reporter’s notebook:

• Katherine Champion has a beautiful voice. She did a great job with the National Anthem. Later on during the ceremony, one of the presenters said her future should include “continuing to sing.”

Katherine Champion sings the National Anthem to kick off Saturday’s graduation ceremony. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

• Lucas Ainsworth in his senior speech remembered the fall of 2017. “I can still remember our freshman orientation when we all filed into the gym, wide-eyed and anxious. I look around to see how much my classmates have changed during these four years and I couldn’t be more honored than to have shared this experience with all of them. This day is about all of us.”

• Daniel Amezquita in his senior speech read a narrative-style poem he entitled, “Once in a Story That’s Told.” Amezquita’s theme revolved around the team approach to progressing through high school.

• Ada Wennstrom’s valedictorian speech was a fun few minutes and was one of my favorite parts of the ceremony. She talked about the crazy past year and how much she missed high school while stuck in distance learning. “I missed the little things, you know, just walking down the hallway and seeing someone I don’t know very well but not waving because we’re not friends like that; but just making, like, eye contact. And I missed coming into school on a Friday morning and hearing faint echoes of banjo music from some dark corner of the school.”

• The principal’s message featured both Mike Bussard and Dan Johnson this year. Dr. J is the principal of Philomath Academy, which had some students among the graduating class. Philomath Academy will hold its own graduation ceremony next year. “I challenge you to make a splash in the world … make a ripple and make your ripple something to be proud of.”

Dawnelle Davis puts her arm around daughter Audrey Davis after presenting her with a diploma. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

• Finally, at each graduation, school district employees and school board members who have graduating sons and daughters have the option of awarding the diplomas to them. We had a handful of those this year and among them was Dawnelle Davis, who had a challenge getting into position to award a diploma to her daughter, Audrey. You see, Audrey was on one end of a line of seniors who were up next, but Dawnelle thought she was at the back end, not the front end, so she was in no hurry to approach the stage. But hey, it all worked out to provide a memorable moment for that mom and daughter.

Kramer’s dominance

For those of you who watch PHS girls basketball, you know how talented junior Sage Kramer is on the court. She routinely scores 20-plus points per game and if Philomath didn’t blow out opponents all the time, she could probably score 30 or 40 if she ever played a full four quarters.

Her coach, Ben Silva, said it’s phenomenal that she just keeps improving. He said her dedication to the sport has made her special athlete.

“She spends more time in the gym than any kid around,” he said. “She loves basketball, she plays it all the time, she’s a hard worker, she’s aggressive. Her ability to score, her ability to pass and find the open person has greatly improved this year.”

Kramer’s developed a reputation around the state.

“She draws so much attention now; we’re not surprising anybody with her anymore,” Silva said.

In Friday night’s game, Sweet Home tried a box-and-1 defense on Kramer. Said Silva, “She’s able to adapt and find the open person, which is a good skill to work on.”

Teammate Kaili Saathoff had this to say: “She can handle the ball well and under pressure but she’s also selfless with the ball. If she sees a better pass, she’ll make it and she trusts all of us with the ball, too.”

Work on North 19th

I’ve had a few folks ask if I know what’s going on with work on North 19th Street. As some of you might expect, the development approved a while back for the construction of an RV park, industrial flex space and storage units is getting started out there.

This first phase involves only ground prep work for the industrial flex space and self-storage. City Manager Chris Workman told me that work on the RV park won’t get started probably until next summer.

“They’re going to have to phase it in, which was always their intent, to bring it in phases,” he said.

Workman shared a few details on the self-stroage.

“This will be like a three-story (facility), nicely designed architecturally and is supposed to look pretty nice,” he said.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).