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Five Hurley graduates combine to deliver commencement address


Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

MARK SAARI, one of four valedictorians for the Hurley class of 2014, delivers the commencement address on Saturday. Also speaking, from left, were, standing, salutatorian Beau Shafer, and co-valedictorians Samantha Lardinois, Sarah Carroll and Cameron Rowe.

HURLEY - Five heads are better than one, or at least that's what the Hurley class of 2014 figures.

When four classmates tied for valedictorian honors with perfect 4.0 grade point averages, it was decided they'd deliver the commencement address together, along with the salutatorian.

Mark Saari, Cameron Rowe, Samantha Lardinois, Sarah Carroll and Beau Shafer tag-teamed to offer advice to fellow classmates and future graduates on Saturday.

Salutatorian Shafer advised his classmates not to take life too seriously, Lardinois encouraged them to be good to one another, Carroll said they should search "for the peace that dwells inside of you," and Rowe stressed that they should be responsible.

Saari said it was such a talented class that "there could have been more" co-valedictorians.

That included Ruger Manzer, who not only posted the highest ACT pre-college test score among seniors, sang and performed music throughout the ceremony, but also scored a first for Hurley.

"Ruger did a (graduation) selfie for the first time in Hurley history," high school principal Jeff Gulan said after Manzer posed the gymnasium crowd in the background as he snapped a photo of himself on the stage in mid-ceremony.

Hurley's graduations are noted for musical performances and the Silver Express blew the joint apart with Pat Benatar's "All Fired Up" near the end of the ceremony.

School board president Joe Simonich started the ceremony on an ominous note when he said that in an extended school year that included 10 canceled days because of bad weather, the senior class was 38 minutes short of graduation requirements and needed to come back on Tuesday.

"I'm just kidding," he later joked.

The 80-degree outside temperature during graduation was 100 degrees warmer than those -20-degree winter days that caused so many class cancellations.

Superintendent Chris Patritto said many of the seniors will return to the K-12 school to visit their former teachers, this time as friends. Patritto invited the graduates back and highlighted the many roles teachers play in students' lives, saying, "They're on the stage every day."

Guidance counselor Melissa Oja said of the 51 graduates, 41 will be going on to further their education, mostly at colleges and technical schools, three will enter the military and seven plan on going right to work.

Five of the graduates plan on pursuing nursing degrees, Oja said.

Class colors are orange, black and silver and the class flower was the orange hibiscus.


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