Del. Susan McComas said she never thought she would be standing before the Patterson Mill graduates when she was graduating from high school in the Wyoming prairies.

"Try to do your best every day and stay positive, because we do live in challenging times," she said.

Angela Zalesak, senior class president, said the camaraderie and togetherness among her peers has been "unmatched."

"Together we have created memories that will last forever," she said. "It's crazy to think that five years have passed since we walked through that golden arch [at the front] of Patterson Mill."


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Taylor Staton, class valedictorian, said the class has learned a lot from Patterson Mill teachers, remembering when she and her classmates were in middle school.

"It's hard to believe that some of the people I knew back then have grown into mature young adults ready to pursue their future," she said.

Staton added she expects a lot from some of them in particular, calling out one of the salutatorians.

"There is no doubt that John Swank will be more successful than Bill Gates and even Steve Jobs," she said, getting a cheer from her classmates.

Staton thanked the principal, parents and even her friends.

"We have been given the tools for a better future," she said.

Other graduates awaiting their diplomas also seemed hopeful and proud of their tight-knit Patterson Mill class.

Zoe Zublick, who hopes to attend James Madison University, said the event was "surreal."

"I really enjoyed high school," she said, adding it helped to be really involved in programs such as the marching band and field hockey.

"It's a big step," Zoe said about graduation. "It hasn't sunk in yet."