KINGMAN - Inspirational messages abounded in the gymnasium at Kingman Academy of Learning High School on Wednesday night, as graduates of the Class of 2007 accepted hugs and congratulations from family and friends.
Kingman City Councilman Kerry Deering kept in step with the inspirational theme of the night when he delivered remarks as guest speaker.
"Now that the doors are open, I challenge you to move on in the next step of your journey," Deering said.
"I hope you'll challenge yourself - not only for self-fulfillment but also to make changes at the state and federal levels.
"And finally, look inside yourself for what will truly make you happy."
Deering also told the graduates their teachers may have taught them something right or something wrong. Either was alright as long as you learn from it.
The importance of the diploma they were receiving would be evident in years to come when completing applications for college, loans or bank accounts, to name a few things, Deering said.
Adam Lucier, class salutatorian, told the graduates they had spent the past four years forging trust and kindling romances.
They also had endured hardships that included peer pressure, failed tests and broken friendships, and they should be thankful for those hardships.
"There is mutual disappointment tonight for all of us, myself included, that such memorable times are coming to an end," Lucier said.
Valedictorian Caitlin Garfield offered seven sensible tips for life in her remarks to the class.
They included wear sunscreen, learn how to change a tire, appreciate your parents, think things through prior to doing them, discover things in life that make you happy, learn how to kill bugs, and never forget friends and fun times created at KAOL.
"Everyone is now taking a different path," Garfield said. "Stay in touch with your friends."
Five of the new graduates are eligible for tuition waivers to any of the state universities by virtue of exceeding math, reading and writing standards on Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards test. However, Garfield and Brooke Adams will not avail themselves of the waivers.
Garfield is headed for Harding University in Searcy, Ark., where she will go into the pre-med program.
She is looking toward a career in geriatrics. She said she would always remember the friends she made at KAOL and teachers who helped her the past four years.
"I don't want to forget anything," Garfield said. "I want to learn from the things I've done wrong."
Adams will enter Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Va., in the fall. She plans to study theater with an eye toward a career in writing and directing.
"I really enjoyed academic decathlon here," Adams said. "It helped prepare me for college by balancing my studies and connecting subjects to the bigger picture."
Asked what she would try to forget about high school, Adams said the shortsightedness of so many students, who feel it was the best years of their lives.
Lucier's fondest memories of high school will be playing on the school soccer team that went to the state tournament four straight years, although it did not win a championship. He added there was nothing about high school he wished to forget that he hadn't already.
Lucier will attend the University of Arizona in the fall. He has not yet decided on a career but said he probably would enter a pre-health curriculum there.
Cengiz Arik also is University of Arizona bound and with a clearly defined career goal in mind. He said he would major in biochemistry and molecular biophysics to prepare to become a surgeon. Arik said his best high school memory would be meeting new people and dealing with drama and soccer as activities.
"There's nothing I want to forget," Arik said. "Forget one part of high school and nothing makes sense because it's all interlinked."
Nicole Wassell's fond memories will include being a member of such sports teams as cross country and girls' basketball.
There is one thing she will try to forget.
"How they treat you like a kid to keep you under control," she said. "You need a bathroom pass and you get detention."