There were braids and beards, high signs, hoots and hugs. There were the usual automatic cameras focusing on a bright future.
There also was homage to the past at Friday’s 1997 North Idaho College commencement.
David Matheson of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe reminded graduates that the land the campus now occupies was a traditional gathering place of his people.
NIC basketball fan and community stalwart Ace Walden was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award for his nearly 70 years of volunteerism.
The commencement address was given by Betty McLain, a retired NIC instructor and trustee whose grandmother and mother - both teachers - helped start the college.
It was 1933 when civic leaders opened the private school that would become NIC.
“The city donated the use of rooms in the old City Hall building,” McLain said, “and the school started.”
McLain started her talk by asking students to name the tune that played while she stepped to the podium. She said it was one their grandparents would remember: “What a Difference a Day Makes.”
“I want each of you to go out of here knowing that you can make a difference,” she said.
The community college awarded diplomas or certificates of completion to 310 people, most of whom donned silver-gray robes and attended Friday morning’s ceremony.
Much of the event was lighthearted. It included a performance by the FAKES, or Faculty Assembly Kazoo Ensemble.”
The teachers and trustees sang a ditty for the graduates to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine.” Lyrics included: “You know grads that we will miss you, think of us when you are away. … Although you’ll be missing the SUB remodel, you can park just anywhere.”
Everyone joined in a birthday chorus for Walden, who was a day shy of 90 years old.
Walden recalled a philosopher’s words:
“If you live long enough,” he told the graduates, “good things will happen to you.”
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