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Spirits soar despite rain at Placer High School graduation

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Normally, it would be sunscreen. But instead of slapping on SPF 30, Placer High School’s Class of 2011’s 303 grads sprouted umbrellas. And instead of sunshine Saturday morning there was rain, plenty of rain. Rain that soaked mortarboards into a pulpy limpness. Rain that turned the LeFebvre Stadium sod into a spongy slip-and-slide. Rain that didn’t let up from the time the procession of umbrella-toting, green-gowned graduates made its triumphal way onto the infield until many students tossed their caps high into the gray sky. Rain is a rarity at a Placer High graduation ceremony. Long-time teachers could recall perhaps four such occasions since the early 1960s. But rain it did. Despite the hard rain, graduates were smiling from under their umbrellas. Connor Jordan wore a plastic poncho underneath his gown but added that one the memories grads will carry with them is finding seats waiting for them at the start of the ceremony covered in water. Even that, however, was a minor discomfort on a special day – perhaps the most special for many in their young lives. As if to taunt the forces of nature, several beach balls appeared within the ranks of grads and were tossed around, as were makeshift flying discs made from soggy programs. “It may be raining but it couldn’t dampen the spirits,” Jordan said. Peter Porata was also happy, despite the raindrops. “The weather is bad but that just makes it more memorable,” Porata said. “It thought it was fun.” The temperature was about 60 degrees during the ceremony and Ashley Truman said she only started to shiver when she was required to abandon her umbrella to line up to receive her diploma. “It’s horrible, terrible. It’s so cold,” Truman said afterward. “But I’m glad to be graduating – just not in these circumstances.” The ceremony itself proved a tribute not only to the hard work and multiple talents of Placer’s graduating class but also to parents and teachers. “Without your support over the last four years we wouldn’t be the people we are today,” said Senior Class President Riley Stoltenburg in her address. A bravely bareheaded Principal Peter Efstathiu thanked graduates for the inspiration they have provided him – from the grad who scheduled knee surgery so she could be back at school on Monday and not break a perfect attendance record that went back to kindergarten, to the senior who started her own non-profit charity. Efstathiu said that in a world where many role models have fallen, he could name dozens of students at the high school who have inspired him. ------------------------------------------ Graduation ceremony highlights: Class of 2011 valedictorians: Angela Archer, Celeste Havener, Anna Marrinan, Nicolas Mitchell, Alyssa Morford, Hannah Peterson, Tierra Schroeder Musical numbers by: Connor Soejoto “A Change in Me,” Aaron Tomashefsky “The Bridge” and Placer’s combined choir “Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart be Staid)." Honorary diploma to: The family of Placer High senior Michael Dallas Smothers, who died May 2 in a motorcycle accident. Student speakers: Associated Student Body President Hannah Peterson and Senior Class President Riley Stoltenburg.