A young mother with a 1-year-old baby, Sarah Webb didn’t have a driver’s license. But she did have a bike. So, every morning last summer, she loaded her little son, Elliott, into a trailer, then hopped on her bike for the two-mile ride to Two Rivers School.
“It took some getting used to,” Webb said of the commute. “But I needed to get to school.”
Webb, like many of her classmates in the Two Rivers School Class of 2014, had to face a challenge to get to this moment.
“After I had him, a lot of people told me I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t graduate. I had to prove them wrong,” she said. “And I did it.”
On Wednesday, June 11, she marched with her class in commencement exercises at Chief Kanim Middle School. Two Rivers faculty shared the accomplishments of 17 graduates, 13 of whom were present. All were commented on and praised.
CrystaRain Orton eventually needed a box of tissue to daub the tears that came after not just one, but three scholarships were awarded her.
“Two Rivers is unique among schools, and I can safely say CrystaRain is without exception one of the most unique students I have ever taught,” commented teacher Jack Webber. “She marched to her own drum.”
Orton has a long history there. She first arrived at Two Rivers as a 2-year-old, playing in the child care center when her mother, 1995 alumna Tara Bookter, took classes there. Orton attended two years of middle school at Two Rivers then six of high school.
“She stands before you tonight as a testimony to perseverance,” Webber said. “After being ready to quit, convincing herself she would never make it, she would gather courage again and again, and return like a boomerang, looking forward, being positive, doing whatever it took to succeed.”
Orton told of her transformation, from “a high school student who couldn’t care less about attending school, who would storm out of classrooms, who was notorious for breaking her own fist, into the positive, hopeful woman I am.”
Orton is known around the school for her creativity and writing skill. In an assignment for Two Rivers middle-school teacher Joe Burgener, Orton built a working boomerang, but never completed the attendant writing assignment. All through high school, whenever she asked for her boomerang, Burgener insisted on the assignment. Finally, Orton was told the boomerang was lost. At commencement, Webber revealed it, and handed it to her at long last.
“I got the boomerang!” Orton said.
Now planning a career in cosmetology, she thanked peers and teachers who have her love and support.
“If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be standing on this stage,” Orton said. “I’m sure Two Rivers is going to be a lot quieter without me around.”
Helping each other
“I enjoy goofing around,” said graduate Mitch Puff, during his moment at the podium. “But this year, I had to focus on my work more than in past years.” He praised his great friends, parents and teachers who believed in him.
Same goes for Allen Scribano and Terra Asper, who are both moving on to culinary school.
“I had a lot of friends that helped me along the way,” said Asper.
Two Rivers “is an all-around great school,” said Scribano. His peers and Terra, his girlfriend, “help get you through.”
In her address, principal Amy Montanye-Johnson shared some of the similarities this graduating class has.
Some needed a smaller school environment, a place to overcome tragedy, and some faced obstacles that interrupted learning. Each overcame their hesitation.
“You showed dedication and committment to yourself, your family, your learning, your goals and your future,” she said.
Burgener always watches to see who of his original middle schoolers finish the long trek to graduation.”
“It’s a long trip for them,” said Burgener. “They’ve come a long way… It makes me really proud to watch these guys.”
Two Rivers grad Allen-Michael Scribano fist-bumps Dalton Bodey.
Ashlyn Bartlett adjusts her cap and mortar prior to going inside Chief Kanim Middle School, site of commencement.
Sarah Webb gets an embrace as she enters the commencement ceremony;
Mitch ‘Slick’ Puff, happy to be graduating.
Logan Grant shows off his grad threads.
Soon-to-be-graduates make their way to the CKMS field for a photo.
Principal Amy Montanye-Johnson takes the center of the heart, as grads get silly.
Terra Asper receives a rose as she arrives at commencement.
Zach Treglown awaits the ceremony.
Erin Roth and Logan Grant
Sarah Webb and CrystaRain Orton
Chastity Dawson and Autumn Pesce
CrystaRain Orton reacts as Debby Peterman announces a scholarship for her to attend continuing education. She received three scholarships in all.
Erin Roth hands a carnation to a loved one.
Mitch Puff gives an honorary white carnation to friends Dalton Bodey and Nicole Clark.
Chastity Dawson chats with Two Rivers principal Amy Montanye-Johnson after receiving her diploma.