CLINTON — Mitch Leonard seized the moment. In a speech that was supposed to be about tradition, Leonard pulled his smartphone from under his graduation gown, turned away from the microphone and took an Ellen-style selfie with his co-graduates seated behind him.
"You only live once," Leonard said. In other words, he exclaimed: "YOLO!"
For Clinton High's Class of 2014, a group of 240 students, their four years spent with the school were marked not just by tradition, but fighting spirit and loyalty. It's a group that includes national scholars, musicians, artists and, even as recently as Saturday, state champion athletes.
Leonard, Jacob Simpson and Samantha Burns all noted these accomplishments, adding more are bound for this group of students.
"Our pride runs (hashtag) #RiverDeep," Leonard said, delivering peace signs to the audience.
While Simpson's speech featured fewer gestures, his message was similar, highlighting the numerous feats his classmates achieved.
"It is clear that fighting spirit has gotten us to where we are today," he said.
Added Burns: "I'm pleased to tell you that everyone in this class has left an impact in some way. We will forever be kings and queens no matter where our paths may take us."
Graduation was also marked as principal Karinne Tharaldson Jones' last. In July, she will begin a new career at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.
Superintendent Deb Olson thanked Tharaldson Jones for her commitment to students, prompting a round of applause.
"Through her leadership and guidance, CHS has become one of the exemplary high schools in the state of Iowa," Olson said. "I would like to publicly acknowledge and thank her for all the work she has done for Clinton High School and the district and wish her well as she moves forward in a different career position."