At the beginning of the school year, Ellensburg High School’s Class of 2017 chose Steve Prefontaine’s motto,”To give anything less than your best self is to sacrifice the gift.”

That motto meant a lot Friday night at Central Washington University’s Nicholson Pavilion.

Dressed in navy blue caps and gowns, 238 seniors held to the promise of giving their best as they walked the stage.

“It feels pretty great,” said senior Major Moffat after the graduates threw their hats up in celebration. “Ellensburg means everything. All the friendships I have made through the years; nothing compares to it.”

The theme of giving one’s all began with a word from EHS physical education teacher Randy Affholter, as he took the stage and shared some of the same advice he gives his football players after every single game.

“Success equals doing your best,” Affholter said. “In this world people get caught up into the idea that success has to come from winning, money, material things or fame, but it doesn’t have anything to do with that. We constantly tell our football athletes at the end of a game, if you have given your best, then win or lose, you are successful.”

Affholter, who has been teaching at Ellensburg High School for 20 years, was selected by the students to speak.

“It was an honor and it was something I will always remember,” he said. “For me, personally, I grew up around these kids (a bit more than other classes).”

Affholter gave the same advice his father gave him on his high school graduation.

“In this life, it is about opportunities and how you prepare for those opportunities,” he said. “You will never know when an opportunity will come in your family life and in your career.”

Toward the end of the ceremony, student speaker Rosalyn Goveia thanked not only educators, but those in the audience who were there to stand behind their loved ones.

“All the parents, families, and friends sitting here today have supported us,” she said. “For every experience, they have loved us and also cried and laughed with us.”

Goveia ended the presentation asking her peers to take their talents with them, wherever they are headed.

“It’s sad that some of you might not come back to Ellensburg, but some of the people sitting around us today are some of the most capable of changing the world,” she said. “We must be ambitious with our goals.”

No matter where the graduates end up, Affholter reminded the class that Ellensburg will always be there for them.

“Ellensburg is a great place to be,” he said. “It is one of the best places to raise a family. This is the place to be.”

Ellensburg students showed off their musical talents as Ana Gilmour, Ally Gleed, Reyna Schedler, Conor Montgomery, Tommy Hyatt and Ellory Ferris sang Lady Antebellum’s “Never Along.” Senior Janelle Calaway performed Miley Cyrus’ “I’ll Always Remember You.”

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