Dayton High grad Chelsey Farnworth found her true love in her freshman year.
She entered the high school's leadership program at the urging of her mom, Terri, and several teachers.
"They just said, 'You have to do this,' and it saved me," she said. "I fell in love with it. It opened all the doors for me, and without leadership, I would not be who I am now."
Chelsey was one of 134 students graduating from Dayton High School on Thursday, among many collecting honors.
Hundreds of family and friends watched Chelsey and her fellow graduates obtain their diplomas.
Salutatorian Katherine Peters told her classmates that education was more than school, and she learned much from those she knew for 12 years. "Never let your schooling get in the way of your education," she said. "Thanks for the memories, and party on, dudes."
Assistant superintendent for the Lyon County School District and former Dayton High principal Teri White gave the commencement address, mentioning Dr. Seuss' "Oh the places you'll go."
"Anything worth having is worth fighting for," she advised the students.
Valedictorian Jennifer Minor noted that valedictory is a farewell, and thanked her fellow students, friends and families.
"We loved, laughed and cried, each of us have grown during our time at Dayton High School," she said, adding that "great minds must think alike," because she closed with passages from the same Dr. Seuss book mentioned by White.
Before the graduation ceremony, Farnsworth credited many of her teachers with helping her through her leadership as well as the rest of her high school experience.
The petite blonde proved her point about how much the leadership program helped her, with her well-spoken, confident and assertive manner.
This year, she was elected 2008 class president, so much of the organizing of the graduation ceremony fell to her, yet she made sure to point out the student council and high school counselors played important roles.
"It's been a slow process, coordinating with the counselors," she said, referring to Denise Hoffman and Monica Halverson. "I would have lost my mind without them."
The student council assembled the graduation, including coordinating the music, speeches and procession. The council consists of vice president Ashley Priester, secretary Ashley Cruz, treasurer Chelle Carrol and representatives Sierra Finck and Jen Minor.
Chelsey and the students on the council were instrumental in choosing the 2008 class motto, quoting the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. Attorney General and New York senator who was assassinated 40 years ago this month: "Some see things as they are and ask why; I dream things that never were and ask why not."
At graduation practice, the students' hard work paid off, as the afternoon rehearsal Thursday went off without a hitch.
Chelsey's dad, Korey, is very active in Dayton-area youth sports, and she said he influenced her a bit, as she played volleyball and track for her first three years at DHS. She decided to stay away from sports her senior year.
"I needed some time away from that," she said. "I wanted to concentrate on school and grades, which worked."
Though she said she always got good grades, the extra effort paid off. Chelsey finished her high school education with a 4.0 grade point average, including honors courses.
She said her parents are "really excited, like parents should be."
Chelsey plans to put her leadership skills to work next at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she plans to major in business, hoping to move on to Portland State at the urging of one of her teachers, and because "it's awesome."
The native Nevadan, who moved to Dayton in 1999 from Carson City, said she wants to be an event planner.
Wherever she goes for school or work, Nevada will see her again. She never really wanted to be anywhere else but here, she said.
"I will be coming back to Northern Nevada to live for the rest of my life."
Class of 2008
Casey James Kelly
Luis Gerardo Melgarejo
Esperanza Padilla Garcia
Christopher Randone Jr.
Erick Rodriguez Jr.
Jennifer Caitli Sober
Rebecca Van Sickle