graduation

The Teton Class of 2020 last Thursday. Courtesy photo, Teton High School.

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, in two separate ceremonies held at the Spud Drive-In, a total of 136 students graduated from Teton School District high schools.

In a year of surprises, fittingly, the night culminated in a surprise closing for Teton High students and families — a finale of fireworks.

In the ceremony’s presentation section, 123 graduates walked across a specially constructed stage. The seniors were called up in groups of ten, using a number they received when coming into the drive-in, which meant it wasn’t in alphabetical order. That helped set a festive tone for the night.

The “live” portion of the program was broadcast via livestream on the district’s Facebook page. With in-person attendance limited to one car per graduate, extended families watched from around Teton Valley and other Idaho locations as well as Missouri, Minnesota, California, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Many of the fondly regarded pieces of a typical THS graduation took place in spite of the unusual setting. A truckload of trees, shrubs, and plants were loaned by Trail Creek Nursery to dress up the stage. A handful of teachers and parents assisted with the decorating, creating two balloon towers of maroon and orange. Bell Photo took formal “grip and grin” pictures, while parents snapped away from a fenced off space. For the tassel ceremony, all the seniors came to the front of the stage and then threw their mortarboards in the air with classic gusto.

TSD 401 Board of Trustees chair Ben Kearsley and Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme gave out the diplomas. Some seniors received theirs from a loved one who had previously served on the school board, and in the case of Carson Reiley, from his mother Marilyn, a teacher at THS.

An hour-long video was shown on the Spud’s big screen after the diplomas were distributed and it was dark enough to see the show. Teton Music presented “Pomp and Circumstance,” and the senior song, “Changes” by David Bowie, was performed by senior students. Hunter Wade revealed the senior gifts, a Redskin Memorial display case and stage repairs in the THS auditorium. Kate Bleffert and Treven Warburton, the two highest-ranked graduates academically, shared speeches. THS teachers also relayed special messages. In a traditional segment sure to again be a favorite, seniors paired their portraits with oh-so-cute baby pictures.

In his pre-taped remarks, Woolstenhulme announced statistics that reflect the graduates’ accomplishments:

● The Class of 2020 accumulated 851 hours of college credit during its time at THS, the equivalent of seven bachelor’s degrees.

● Seniors earned $3,186,329 in scholarships. Ceremonies for the graduates of Basin High School took place just prior to the THS event, with a similar set-up. Woolstenhulme, Kearsley, Basin principal Brian Ashton, with teachers Carolee Moulton and Marty Lord, distributed diplomas to the 13 Basin graduates.

The school district extends special thanks to Jedd and Katie Mumm of the Spud Drive-In for making their venue available; to Trail Creek for greenery and labor to set it up; and to the Teton County Sheriff’s Department for assisting with parking logistics and traffic on the highway.

Also, thank you to Teton Valley Boost and its donors for milkshake coupons, from Corner Drug and Victor Emporium, that were given to all seniors. The Teton Valley News, the Education Foundation of Teton Valley, and the Teton Booster Club also all contributed to recognizing graduates this unique year.