Sky View Class of 2011: “You have big dreams, bigger than I had”

Image: Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Michael Ballam (Class of 1969)

Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Michael Ballam (Class of 1969) (Corey Burger)

Four hundred and sixty three Sky View graduates marched through the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum Tuesday night in celebration of being the graduating class of 2011. Hundreds of families and friends flocked to Utah State’s campus to watch the ceremony, which began with the March of the Graduates, conducted by Principal Dave Swenson.

After the graduates were seated, Allen Grunig of the Cache County Board of Education gave a few remarks, congratulating the graduates and quoting Harry Potter’s Albus Dumbledore when he said, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far greater than our abilities.”

This year’s Distinguished Alumni were presented by Swenson following Grunig’s remarks and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Michael Ballam, a Utah State music and creative arts professor, was presented the first Distinguished Alumni award. A member of the Class of 1969, Ballam has since been involved with 700 performances, starred in 75 major roles, and has appeared in three major motion pictures.

Ballam remarked on how, as a River Heights youth, it was statistically impossible for him to become an opera star and achieve the things he has today. He had a better chance of being the next Carl Malone, he said, but he stated that he was able to reach his dream by “doing whatever it takes.”

“You have big dreams,” he said. “Bigger than I had.”

He urged the Class of 2011 to “do whatever it takes” to make their dreams reality.

Following Ballam’s remarks, Major General Brian Tarbet from the Class of 1967 was honored as a Distinguished Alumni. Tarbet studied counterterrorism and achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in political science. He has been involved with the military for most of his career, and he currently oversees a group of 65 soldiers.

Tarbet began by saying, “I’m here for you C students. It’s not over yet.”

He said that it was soldiers not much older than the graduates that he had the chance to command. Without the help of those young adults, he said, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“There are some that question your generation,” he said. “I am not one of them.”

Following Tarbet’s remarks, the Sky View Jazz Band played Rich Woolworth’s “1.21 Gigawatts” under the direction of Randall Beach.

Allison Fife, Sky View’s 2011 Salutatorian, then took the stand and addressed the graduates. She described how, as a junior high student, she had been so wrapped up with classes and courses and wanting to achieve. Getting ahead, she said, was one of her only focuses.

Then she discussed how finding balance in life created some of her happiest days.

Quoting Thomas S. Monson, president of the LDS church, she said, “Never let a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved.”

By finding that balance between helping others and focusing on problems, she said, life was easier to handle. She urged her fellow graduates to make a focus on others as great, if not greater, a priority as getting ahead.

The Sky View Drum Line took the stage and, under the direction of Beach, performed the percussion ensemble “Taikos Return.”

Jade Burt, Sky View’s Valedictorian and Top Scholar, then addressed the audience. He asked everyone to imagine that they had been climbing a mountain, that they had just reached the top. Ahead of them, he described, was dozens of more peaks. He said that he and his fellow graduates had been climbing their peak for 12 years. “Let’s continue to climb more mountains,” he said.

Burt said that there are many people who don’t have vision and therefore they don’t know where to go or what to do. A lack of vision, he said, makes you less likely to succeed.

He said that by better planning goals and creating a target to reach, it will be a lot easier to achieve them. He spoke of his experience joining the cross country team. He wanted to run a 5k in under 20 minutes, and to do so, he created a plan. He joined the cross country team where the support and training would be there. Eventually, he was able to achieve his goal.

“The reward of a job well done is to have done it,” he said in closing. He urged the graduates to pick a new mountain and begin the journey.

Sky View’s 4.0 Scholars were recognized for their achievements. The scholars were: Taylor Andersen, Jade Burt, Carley Buttars, Anne Clark, Mickensi Didericksen, Allison Fife, Tanner Gray, Natalie Greene, Andrea Halling, James Hodgson, Justine Larsen, McKenna Lee, Blake McKinley, Zachary McKinley, Mikaelyn Mailes, Christian Morrill, David Nelson, Dylan Nielson, Riley Nielson, and Brittany Shumway.

The Senior Choir performed Audrey Snyder’s “New Beginnings” with Stephanie Walker as accompanist and Azure Kline playing the cello. Afterwards, the choir sang Mark Haye’s arrangement of “Lean on Me.”

Superintendent Steven Norton took the podium and thanked teachers, parents, and friends for making the graduation of each student possible.

Swenson presented the graduates, and he stated that a recent ISQ survey conducted at the national level found that Sky View had the most votes from students who liked their school overall. That, he said, was an amazing accomplishment. He further encouraged graduates to remember the school’s RCK motto: relationships, character, and knowledge.

Garrick Hall of the Cache County Board of Education accepted the graduates, and the board then presented diplomas to the each student.

After a switch of the tassel from left to right to signify their graduation, the Class of 2011 ended the night with caps thrown happily into the air and one last performance of the school hymn in celebration of finishing their elementary and secondary school careers.