Joseph Atwood's dad is beaming today.
His 18-year-old son didn't say anything to embarrass the family during his speech at American Fork High School's graduation. And, despite a court-ordered ban on prayers, the senior class president somberly asked a Heavenly Creator to bless the 85th annual event Friday at the Marriott Center."My dad's up there somewhere having a nervous breakdown, hoping I won't say anything that will disgrace the family," Atwood said. "The principals probably are, too."
But student body president Benjamin Evans' parents are likely wishing they'd given their son some different advice during his 13 years in the public education system.
"I want you to remember three things my parents taught me: Have fun, be safe and drink Pepsi," Evans quipped to the some 315 graduates. He recalled a fun-packed year of lessons, service and a spirit of friendship that won't easily be forgotten.
"Every time I went to one of the activities I saw a lot of spirit," he said. "It didn't matter if we won or lost, we Cavemen held our heads high. I salute all of you for that."
Looking back at more than a dozen years in school, valedictorian Melissa Johnson recounted her fears the first day of kindergarten. What if she forgot how to count? What if someone stole her crayons? What if she had to sit next to a geek?
She eventually learned numbers sometimes don't add up and it was OK to color outside the lines.
Salutatorian Duane Day admitted he cried his first day at school.
"Did I cry? Heck, yeah. The thing is, we all had to go through similar experiences in kindergarten," he said. "We all had to take that first step . . . the journey through education will determine the journey of our lives."
Physicians, poets and politicians will rise from the ranks of the red and white robes, he predicted.
Principal Glen R. Clark said the year was filled with great memories, from the band's march in the Rose Bowl Parade to the ballroom dance team championship.
Nearly 100 students also earned at least a 3.8 cumulative grade point average, he said.