AUGUSTA —Tara Jorgensen loves to read, and the Cony High School valedictorian told her classmates that life is a like a big book.

High school was just the prologue, she said.

In a book, Jorgensen said, the prologue often gives readers a glimpse of what’s to come later, and she said that is what high school is all about.

“The high school prologue is a teaser,” she said. “It showed us a possibility of what the real world could be but does not promise what it will be.”

Jorgensen, 18, was one of 144 graduating seniors at the commencement ceremony Sunday at the Augusta Civic Center. She’ll attend South Dakota State University in Bookings, South Dakota, in its pharmacy program.

Another graduate was Sean Tenney, the salutatorian, who thanked everybody from infants, toddlers, children and tweens to teens, young adults, adults, older adults, and even older adults.


“It is your compassion, empathy, patience, tolerance, curiosity, worry and myriad other qualities (that) were and are essential to the presence of us 11.75 dozen graduates here,” Tenney said. “See, kids, geometry.”

Principal Kimberly Silsby said this year’s senior class contributed greatly to the school’s culture and climate.

She said the students are compassionate, conscientious and have enriched the hallways of Cony High for the last four years.

This has been a challenging year for students in America because of two school shootings – in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas – that left more than 20 teenagers dead and thrust the idea of teenage activism into the spotlight.

While none of the students spoke about the issue of gun violence, Silsby said the seniors recognize the kind of impact they can have at the local and national levels.

“They are great role models and helped to contribute to a safe community among our students and celebrate the diversity among them,” Silsby said. “Our students have always thought they could make a difference.”


This group of seniors, Silsby said, helped institute changes on campus including helping change some student guidelines related to privileges, the development of a senior lounge and the creation of a winter carnival.

Silsby said these students have been acting locally and help to make the school a better place.

“They’re continuing to act the way they always have at Cony,” Silsby said.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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