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Todd Hyland told graduates their lives would be like riding a roller coaster, full of ups and downs.

"Your safety bar is firmly in place," said Hyland, the teacher and guest speaker elected by Park High School's Class of 2006 to talk at commencement ceremonies. "Keep your hands inside the car and get ready for the ride of your life."

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About 500 seniors marched into Wolfpack Stadium Friday night watched by an audience of friends and families that filled the seats to the brim.

Kara Johnson and Leah Tollefson, two of the valedictorians, gave their speeches together.

"What we have studied is only half of what we learned," Johnson said.

There were classes that everyone enjoyed and learned in and "maybe even some that bored us to tears," said Tollefson. "We've grown together. There's so many things we have yet to do."

Honor student Matthew Briggs was selected by students to give a speech. He talked about the music students grew up with such as the song from "Barney" and the Macarena.

"We were fun loving and carefree," he said. "Although it is a confusing time, we must keep on singing our song. What ever you do, sing it loud."

Grads are relieved, he said. "Thank God, advanced placement calculus is over."

The senior choir sang "Fields of Gold," and the wind ensemble played "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Graduating Senior Francine Magee and her father, John, sang "The Prayer."

After Park High Principal Walt Lyszak declared the Class of 2006 as officially having graduated, grads met in the middle of the field for a "group hug."

Perhaps thinking about the roller coaster they were about to ride, they tossed their caps into the air to the strains of "Stars and Stripes Forever," played by the school band.

A special section dedicated to seniors in south Washington County is included in the June 7 print edition.

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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