It was social distancing at its best inside Washington Grizzly Stadium as Willard Alternative High School was graduated on Thursday.

On Friday, the Hellgate ceremony was at 9:00 a.m., Sentinel at noon and Big Sky at 3:00 p.m.

At Hellgate’s ceremony there was a special video message from Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

At Sentinel’s graduation, during the speech to her fellow seniors, Class President Madison Notti discovered a quote that made a definite impression.

“One of my jobs as senior class president was to help choose our class motto,” said Notti. “While reading about a half million quotes, one really stood out to me. The quote said ‘smile while you still have teeth’. High school blew by in the blink of an eye, and if high school can fly by this fast then the upcoming years of our lives probably will, too. So, make sure to do as many things as you can that make your happy, until your teeth fall out, and even then continue to do the things that make you happy.”

Notti referenced the COVID pandemic that struck in March and suddenly closed all the schools, changing almost overnight to distance learning.

“This year is a prime example of not being able to predict the future,” she said. “We can’t take anything for granted. We need to grab lifer by the reins and live life to the fullest. We need to smile every day and find the good in all situations. So take advantage of your pearly whiles and show them off as often as possible.”

Notti closed her address with these words.

“It’s not about the ending. It’s about the journey that brought us here, and I’d say the journey has been a pretty great one. I wish you all the very best in life, and remember, smile while you still have teeth.”

MCPS is making plans to return to in-classroom instruction in the fall, just as the University of Montana, but they will stay in close contact with the Missoula City County Health Department for safety guidelines.

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