Class of 2017 ends its tenure at Lone Peak High School

By Tyler Allen EBS Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School graduated 17 seniors today before a packed gymnasium in the Bough Dolan Athletic Center.

Math and science teacher Paul Swenson opened the faculty address by surprising the students with one more exam before their tenure in the Big Sky School District was over. He proceeded to weave each student’s name into a speech in which he said, “I am actually part of a student’s constellation. … You have all worked hard to pull off some amazing feats.”

Dasha Bough was the class valedictorian and the first LPHS student to be accepted to Harvard, Yale and Brown universities, as well as Rhode Island School of Design—she will be attending Harvard University in the fall. The University of Alabama, Carroll College, Montana State University, the University of Montana, Arizona State University, the University of West Virginia and the University of California, Santa Barbara will also be home to Big Horn alumni this fall.

“Up until a couple of weeks ago I was convinced I was going to graduate from a one-stoplight town,” Bough quipped, a reference to Big Sky’s second stoplight currently being installed at the intersection of Lone Mountain Trail and Ousel Falls Road.

She noted “the speech” given to her and her classmates each year by their new teachers: “We’ve been warned about your class.” Fourth grade teacher Jeremy Harder even chose to take a six-month sabbatical rather than deal with them, she joked. Bough spoke to the resiliency, consistency and camaraderie of the class of 2017 and mention of classmate Bridger Babcock’s hit song “Bridger Rocks” elicited a refrain of the tune from many of the graduates.

Pem Dorjee Sherpa, who accompanied eight of the seniors on a service trip to Nepal this spring, gave the keynote address. He noted that he never imagined being a commencement speaker as he was growing up in a small village halfway around the world. He said that he had to travel two hours in each direction to attend school and most of the parents of his classmates could neither read nor write.

Pem told a captivating story about his wedding on the summit of Mount Everest, which he and his wife kept secret from even their climbing partners prior to the ceremony on top of the world. He described the many opportunities afforded to him by the organization Rotary International, and how being a kind person can open up many doors in life.

“You have to treat people nicely whether they’re good or bad, beneficial or not,” he advised the students.

Each student was brought to the stage to receive their diplomas from Big Sky School District Board Chairperson Loren Bough, BSSD Superintendant Dustin Shipman and LPHS Principal Alex Ide. Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” blasted briefly through the gymnasium speakers before the high school graduates walked out of the gym to a standing ovation from the Big Sky community.