The cheers were 'loud and proud' for the 41 students who received their diplomas from Blackfoot's Independence Alternative High School (IAHS) Friday at Blackfoot Performing Arts Center.
It was evident in the speeches given by both students and staff that there is much pride, respect and appreciation for one another at IAHS.
"This is an amazing group of kids," said counselor Randy Martineau. "I am thankful for the opportunity they gave me to be their counselor."
"If it wasn't for this school, I would not be standing here today," said graduate Jessica Schmidt. "There is a strong bond between us. I will miss you classmates and staff."
Graduate Kathryn Ternus espressed similar sentiments, saying, "We've faced many struggles...small and large...and we've overcome many obstacles. Words cannot express my gratitude tonight."
"We've been through a lot, but we are graduating tonight despite those issues," said graduate Kimberly Nieto. "We are leaving behind our friends and our beloved teachers and it hurts to let them go."
Jessica Longoria, (a scholarship recipient of $28,800 to the College of Idaho) has been a student at IAHS since she was a freshman; she asked for a round of applause for the parents and teachers, saying, "thank you for everything and all of your wise advice."
Graduate Tait Giannini took the podium giving a special thank you to his father, asking him to please stand in the audience.
Teacher Becky Price addressed the class, praising them for their perseverance and urging them to reach for a goal no matter what.
"It would've been easy to give up, but you didn't! You did it!" Price stated enthusiastically. "Now, have a plan and make a goal...and work for it...no matter what it is."
Price also recognized retiring teachers Valaree Estep, Julia Dee Starr, Chuck Riddle and staff member Rick Ockerman wishing them the best on their new journey.
Teacher Dan Grimes left the podium and addressed the students and audience directly from the stage, saying, "Tonight after this graduation, these kids will still be your daughters and your sons, your nieces and your nephews, but this is the last night they will be my students."
To the graduates he said, "We have been a team working together, learning lessons together. Our relationship changes tonight; I will no longer be your teacher."
Grimes encouraged the students to "always take responsibility for their bad...and to take credit for their good."
Principal Mark Kartchner presented the diplomas and gave closing remarks amidst plenty of exuberant cheers and applause. The graduates flipped tassels and tossed caps as family and friends waited eagerly to hug their graduate from Indpendence Alternative High School's Class of 2012.