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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 5 - 11, 2002


High School graduation has surprise speaker

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River High School graduated 147 students last week at the campus in Hailey, and got a cherry on top when a surprise speaker commandeered the microphone.

Kristen Nelson speaks to the graduating class during her surprise speech Friday night at the Wood River High School. Express photo by David N. Seelig

For the first time, Principal Graham Hume allowed the students to vote for their commencement speakers. The students top choice didn’t include the school Valedictorian, Kristen Nelson, of Hailey.

Traditionally Valedictorians always speak at their commencements.

Instead, Patrick O’Farrell, the class president, spoke as did one of the class vice-presidents, Will Hemmings, who received the most votes from his fellow seniors.

Teacher Brian Daluiso also addressed the graduates.

While collecting her diploma, Nelson, who has a 4.0 GPA, and a ticket to Smith College in Massachusetts, decided to take the microphone despite the votes.

Fellow graduates applaud Kristen Nelson during the Valedictorian’s speech at commencement. Express photo by David N. Seelig

She appeared slightly nervous at first but gradually made her points with ease. She said that as Valedictorian she had the right to speak and would never be in such a position again.

While her speech was moderately defensive, according to witnesses, most of the students roundly applauded and gave her a standing ovation.

"I think there was mass confusion amongst the older generation," said one bemused parent.

Nelson, the daughter of Kurt Nelson and Alison Nelson, grew up in the valley. A member of the National Honor Society, she also was a star of the soccer team, received a Colby College Book Award last year and won the Zollman Scholar award to Smith this year.

WRHS principal Hume declined to comment on the actions of Nelson.


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