|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Saturday, 04 June 2011 00:00|
Despite a threat of violence and a gusting wind, Mingus Union High School graduation ceremony proceeded as planned, with more than 200 seniors crossing the platform to receive their diploma.
MUHS District Governing Board President Jim Ledbetter announced at the start of the ceremony that a threat — first reported to police May 24 — had been “resolved,” provoking a loud cheer from the crowd.
Even so, an increased police presence could be seen across the MUHS campus Friday, May 27, as the ceremony unfolded. The nature of the threat and details about how it was resolved were not released as of press time.
As the names of graduates were called, joyful celebration broke out next to The Cave.
Bleachers packed to overflowing, roughly 100 late-arriving parents and assorted relatives tried to hold the high ground in folding chairs or searched for a better vantage near the stands on the Mingus Mountain side of the field.
The ceremony for the 2011 Mingus Union High School graduating class was a standing-room-only event.
Nearly 1,000 cars jammed lots and lined streets around the school May 27.
Tandy Lashea Taylor, student body president, stepped forward to voice the thoughts of many graduates.
“I know we are strong and courageous, and we can succeed,” she said.
During her speech, co-Valedictorian Erin Freriks took time to thank parents, brothers, sisters and all the other people who made sure she made it to all her activities and supported her to become the best she could be.
Bystanders milled around the tall, chain-link fence, several joking and laughing, their camera phones and blast horns at the ready.
Others zigged and zagged at the fringe of the field, navigating by the view screen of their digital video recorders.
“The journey we took to get here was hard, and we are all deserving,” Freriks said.
“Whatever diverse path you choose, do it with all your heart,” she said.
Mark and Kim Carroll were there to celebrate their friend Johnny Esler’s accomplishment.
“We’re glad to be here watching him graduate. It’s very exciting for us,” Mark Carroll said.
Micah Swenson, coach of a state champion cross country team from Oak Creek School, said he was there to cheer on members of the winning squad, which included Hunter Rauch, Kyle Alexander and Quinn Mielke.
“Honestly, that group I had out there was the most fun, hardworking bunch I ever had,” Swenson said. “It’s nice to be here at this moment, to be here before they top it all off and go out and accomplish amazing things.”
By the time the MUHS Symphonic Band closed out the celebration with the Mingus Fight Song, families of the class of 2011 seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief, then charged onto Bright Field to congratulate their graduates.
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