ABERDEEN – Students as diverse as the community they represent assembled at Aberdeen Middle School for graduation ceremonies Thursday night.

Walking in to the Processional March presented by the Aberdeen High School Orchestra, the students filed two by two into the gymnasium and took their assigned seats, broad smiles showing on their faces in anticipation of the ceremony.

Following the invocation and opening remarks made by Carmen Partida, the National Anthem was played and Aberdeen school board Chair Elaine Blik took the microphone.

She saluted the students, faculty, and administration on a wonderful job of getting the students to this point of their life, which is only a beginning, not an ending. She encouraged the graduates to continue on in their lives, seeking out those challenges and dreams that they could pursue, always remembering that they could return to Aberdeen and thank those teachers who helped to get them on their way.

The keynote speaker was Michelle Barrett-Falconer, a former Aberdeen graduate who now resides in California and is a partner in a prestigious California law firm.

“This will be a speech about the ‘F-word’, but not the ‘F-word’ you might all be thinking of right now,” Barrett-Falconer said. “The F-word that I am talking about is failure. Your whole life you have been told about hard work and determination as being the keys to success, but I am here to tell you it is about how you deal with the f-word.”

Barrett-Falconer went on to saythat people are afraid of the word failure, but that failure is a part of life and how you deal with it has a lot to do with how much success you will have in life.

“Failure is inevitable. Everyone has some failure in their life,” Barrett-Falconer said. “Those successful people you read about, hear about or see on television all have had their share of failure in life. They are the ones who get up, dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and then go out and tackle the same problems they had the first time in a different way, one that allows them success.”

She went on to describe a number of people, Benjamin Franklin included, who were not given the opportunities in life that Aberdeen High School graduates were getting, that being a diploma for graduating and a head start in life. They all overcame those setbacks and became what they envisioned they could be.

“This room is full of future leaders, people who will be inventors, successful farmers, builders, politicians, you name it, they are in this group in front of me,” Barrett-Falconer said. “You just have to realize it, and then chase after that dream and make it happen for yourselves and your family. It is possible and you can do it.”

Salutatorian Magalli Morado Landaverde and Valedictorian Jaycee Diane Nielsen followed with their addresses to their classmates, full of encouragement to seek out challenges that would help them grow and build themselves into successful people, no matter what field or endeavor that they might choose for the future.

Julyssa Gonzalez then presented the class for graduation to Principal Travis Pincock.

Pincock, in turn, presented the class of 2019 to the Aberdeen school board as being prepared for graduation having met all of the guidelines set forth by the Idaho State Board of Education.

The acceptance of the class and presentation of diplomas was then started by Blik and the entire school board.

Following a rendition of the class song, “I Lived,” the tassel switch was made by Halle Driscoll and the benediction offered by Julyssa Gonzalez.

The class then left the auditorium to the Recessional March, presented by the Aberdeen High School Band.