Corey White expresses his jubilation over accepting his diploma at the McNary High School commencement ceremony Friday, June 8 (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

It was the culmination of a journey for 386 McNary High School students as they strode onto the floor of the Pavilion in the State Fairgrounds to accept their diplomas Friday, June 8.

As part of the festivities, senior speaker Sam Marcus looked back on the often rocky roads that led them there.

“We’ve made it to the end of this journey together – maybe a bit divided – but always together,” Marcus said. “We’ve worked so hard for more than 12 years to be in this room right now waiting for a piece of paper that will allow us to leave.”

He encouraged the 400 classmates who completed graduation requirements to continue forward with the same exhaustive efforts that led them to the graduation stage.

“Achieving success and happiness isn’t going to be easy. We’ll have to keep working hard, but it’s worth it. Remember what you feel right now: the sweet satisfaction, the relief, the excitement, the pride. You know that you can achieve great things when you work at it,” Marcus said. “Only you can choose to climb your personal mountains and achieve your goals and I hope that you choose to do that. I also hope that you take some time to stop and enjoy the view from such great heights.”

Rodney Ferguson, CEO of Spirit Mountain Casino, encouraged the graduating students to follow in his steps. Ferguson climbed his way out of poverty to hold executive jobs at several casinos and working as a chief financial officer for Donald Trump.

“It wasn’t that I got the job, it was the journey to get that job. If I can do it, so can you.  All the obstacles I went through, you can do the exact same thing,” Ferguson said.

For more photos of the ceremony, check out our photo gallery.