The weather broke into some welcome sunshine on Friday, May 24, just in time for graduation exercises at Heart Butte High School. Folks arrived early as a record number of graduates prepared to take their first steps into the post-secondary world of college and points beyond. In his first year as Superintendent, Mike Tatsey said the school boasted an 86 percent graduation rate with the Class of 2019.
The Heart Butte Jr. Singers opened things this year as the class entered with their guests and escorts. Friends and family lined up to photograph the groups as they entered, then separated into graduates in one set of seats and guests in their special area.
Arlene Augare once again offered a traditional blessing in Blackfeet, and Superintendent Mike Tatsey and Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman Tim Davis welcomed those in attendance. Both reflected on their years as students and educators and encouraged the graduates to aim high and remember their roots.
Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person spoke to the graduates about their place in Blackfeet culture, and the elders and history of the Heart Butte area. He sang rare songs coming from the societies around Heart Butte and offered his blessings.
The graduates acknowledged those who helped them most during their high school years by giving them roses and sweetgrass in a special presentation; then a slideshow featured each graduate’s progress through life.
The valedictorian address was delivered by Savannah Day Chief who reflected on her life and times at HBHS, and credited her mother with having helped her succeed. Taysia Andrews followed with her salutatorian address, recalling all the people who helped her along the way.
Scholarships were the next order of business, and the activity began with Ali Smith, admissions technician at Blackfeet Community College, announcing each graduate has earned a scholarship to attend BCC. Principal Mike Comes At Night then announced all the remaining scholarships and awards, of which there were many.
Finally, the highlight of the afternoon arrived as each student received a diploma and posed for loads of pictures with family and friends. The weather continued to cooperate as those in attendance moved on to the reception, with music performed by the Nick Crawford Band.