By LIZ HARRELSON
The phrase "keep it simple, stupid" was almost the theme of last night's two-hour Sonora High School graduation.
More than 3,500 people squeezed into bleacher seats, sat on cement steps or in their own chairs brought from home to witness the commencement of 288 members of Sonora High's Class of 2003.
Speeches bursting with advice and amorous words were kept short and relatively sweet.
"I had a speech prepared ... but I guess I'll K.I.S.S.," said student body President Jamie Relei in her closing address.
Emphasizing the "simple, but valuable, principles in life," Relei presented the argument that all we need to know we learn in kindergarten, referencing Robert Fulghum's essay that includes such principles as share everything, play fair, don't hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, don't take things that aren't yours, say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Co-valedictorian Arica Nesper spoke of choices.
"Deciding in life each individual choice, to make their own decisions, and discover their own words of wisdom," Nesper said of her learning experience at Sonora High.
In all, three co-valedictorians and three foreign exchange students spoke, including Tine Van Brussel, who cited things about Belgium she has been missing:
"French fries with mayonnaise, wild parties, and beer because in Belgium there is no drinking age."
Yells, whistles and catcalls almost as loud as those at the final cap tossing, erupted.
Yet for some, this was a bittersweet celebration.
"All of my friends are leaving it's going to be a lot different," said soon-to-be junior Christa Mastenbrook, 16. "They really contributed a lot to my high school experience. I hope I can live up to their example."
"The Class of 2003 represents the best of Sonora High School," said Principal Terry Clark, who urged grads to make "wise decisions, rather than expedient ones."
"Remember, you are your decisions," Clark said.