In a time of celebration, speakers at Redmond High’s 2019 graduation took time to look back at a friend who wasn’t there.

Hunter Holmes, a Redmond soccer goalie and golfer, took his own life in December 2017. A foundation in his honor has raised tens of thousands of dollars for suicide prevention and other programs, as well as producing videos seen by millions.

Salutatorian Benny Saito, who won the state doubles tennis title and led the Panthers to a team title, spoke about Holmes, who would have been among the graduates June 7 at the Deschutes County fairgrounds.

“He was truly a light in our lives, and we will always remember him for the kindness he showed on a daily basis,” said Saito, who was among those honored in a downtown parade a day earlier. “The Holmes family will always be a part of this class, and they’ve become like parents to may of us. Holmes family, we thank you for the love and encouragement you give to all of us. We love you.”

Grace Rawlins, the student body president, referenced Holmes in talking about the work the class has completed.

“Whether it was the small acts of kindness that go unnoticed, or raising over $20,000 for the community, I believe this class made the choice to positively impact the lives of others every day,” she said. “Kindness is what this world is thirsty for, and our class has the opportunity to quench that thirst.”

The event had its lighter moments. Math teacher, Jeff Schiedler, the faculty speaker, referenced several rappers. He said Logic, is not just a rapper or a math skill, but something they will need in their lives.

“Although you may not deal with many aspects of high school math in your life, you will be forced to navigate many complex situations,” Schiedler said. “I hope you analyze those situations with logic as you encounter them. Because although many of you are fans of Khalid, I hope you don’t always want to be young, dumb and broke.”

Schiedler finished his speech by reading the children’s book “What Do You Do With a Chance?” by Kobi Yamada. The book encourages children to be brave and ready for new experiences.

Valedictorian Maddie Lamken said she would have thought someone was crazy if they had told her five years ago that she would graduate from a public high school. The former home school student said all that changed once she met Redmond FFA advisor Lance Hill.

“Mr. Hill, thank you so much for always encouraging me to pursue my passions that have helped me live out of the box,” Lamken said.

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