For just a few moments, the student population of Plevna High School dramatically increased.
The incoming freshmen, the Class of 2025, were introduced at the beginning of the school’s commencement program.
Then the focus turned to the keynote speaker and the departing five members of the Class of 2021.
Sylvan LaCross is a product of Fallon County who found success in the rodeo arena and in life.
His rodeo success started in bull riding, but about four years ago he switched to bullfighting – going head to head, not riding the bull into the arena.
But Saturday (May 22) the arena was in the gymnasium at Plevna, trying to help the five students and their families transition to a new lifestyle.
The head rodeo coach for the University of Providence and the creator of the Broncs, Bulls and Bibles camp held each year in Miles City. LaCross served as the Argos’ assistant rodeo coach from 2017 until 2019 and was previously a rodeo coach at the University of Idaho from 2010 through 2013.
LaCross also recently joined a rare group in rodeo, when he got the Calvin Bohleen Memorial Award in recognition of his mentoring, professionalism, and investment in the future of rodeo.
But instead of standing on the dirt of a rodeo arena Saturday, LaCross was in front of a microphone doing something that years ago he never thought he’d be doing.
“It is a humbling experience for me,” he said at the start of the keynote address, then joked why anyone would want someone who puts a skirt on at night there.
“One of my greatest accomplishments in high school was not only getting involved in rodeo, but also in basketball other sports, and speech and drama. It gave me the courage to be up here,” he said, urging the current students to take public speaking classes. “When you get well off in your careers, you are going to have to talk to people.”
The University of Idaho graduate said that the Plevna graduation was the first he had been to since his brother graduated several years earlier but it was one of three he would be attending over the weekend.
“You really want to figure out who you want to be,” he told the graduates. “You may find your own faith or leap of faith … whether you are going to find that new hairdo or new style to dress in… “
LaCross warned those will be some of the decisions the new graduates would need to make as they now move to a different stage in life.
“Your parents may not be there to tell you what to do. Unfortunately, that’s when you’ll find out responsibility is a key aspect in your life,” he said, noting there would be consequences to their decisions.
He also stressed not to lose site of their goals but be ready to adapt. “Everybody’s path is different. But you really need to make the most of it.”
For LaCross, he cited spending a month buying bulls for the king’s camel festival in Saudi Arabia. “It was scary, but pretty cool.”
He said goals and paths may change but keep them set. He also said that some things they take with them. “I still have shirts from high school,” he joked.
“Be ready for anything,” he advised them. “Let your light shine to let others see your good deeds. You have to define your own motto … your own verse. It is a challenge, If you want to live to a standard, you have to hold yourself to that standard.”
For the five graduating seniors – Dacy Buerkle, Bret Edgell, Jenna Paul, Trinity Rieger and Ashley Sander – it was their final event as seniors.
Sander, the salutatorian, told the audience that as she grew at Plevna she changed. “My freshman and sophomore years, I stopped participating in activities that brought me more anxiety. I began to express myself in new ways. As time went on, I cared about interests that were important to me I allowed my personality to reflect who I really was,” she explained.
She also teared up when she added that she would not be where she was without those who had helped her.
“Thank you for accepting me,” she added. “You all mean the world to me.”
After the graduation poem by Mrs. Karen Stockett, it was time for the valedictorian address by Trinity Rieger.
“Your life is entirely what you make it. I see positivity as a boomerang. If you throw it, it will come back to you. If you manifest good thoughts, good things will return to you.,” she told the audience.
“Today …. we open a new door. May all your future endeavors lead to growth, success and happiness,” she concluded.
The diplomas were presented by vice chairman of the Plevna School Board Teresa Rieger.
The graduating students accumulated approximately $150,000 in scholarships, according to the school officials.