PAGE – Members of the Page High School Class of 2016 bid goodbye to each other Saturday night, and the school principal said goodbye to Page.
Paul Gagnon, principal for four years and a PHS staffer on and off for 10, is leaving to become principal at Queen Creek High School in the Valley. Some members of the 144-strong Class of ‘16 took a few light-hearted shots at Gagnon, a University of Arizona graduate. They answered his speech by chanting “ASU.”
Andrew Serventi opened his class speech by greeting parents, staff members, esteemed guests – “and Mr. Gagnon.”
Though small in size, the class generated about $700,000 more in scholarship offers than the PHS Class of 2015 and boasts a Gates Millennium Scholarship winner in Ashley Dempsey.
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The co-valedictorians were Annmarie Barton, Michael Demangone and Noah Larson. Salutatorian was Rachel Stice. Barton is bound for ASU to study biochemistry, Demangone to ASU to study pre-medicine and Larson to a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Stice plans to study biology at NAU before starting a Master’s in marine ecology.
Stice, a member last summer of the Tempe-based Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, encouraged classmates to consider one of the Academy’s beliefs: “The effort is the prize.”
Barton’s talk was interrupted by the singing of “Happy Birthday” from the stands, which turned into a spontaneous rendition by classmates. She went on to suggest that life events shouldn’t be regretted: “Never look back on moments. Live them.”
Larson’s shoe-themed talk reminded classmates to hold out hope for good things: “Remember, a new shoe release is right around the corner.”
The star-crossed class, which survived the collapse of Highway 89 as freshmen, a main-building fire as sophomores and a car crashing through a science room as juniors, nearly had another major challenge.
A two-day wind advisory expired just as an overflow audience gathered at Cyclone Field and a full moon rose. Breezes of just 13 miles an hour wafted over the field and the school’s 21st straight outdoor graduation ceremony was in the clear.