Sixty guests filled the room for Silver State High School’s first graduation |

Sixty guests filled the room for Silver State High School’s first graduation

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

It may have been a small class, but the clapping and cheering was as loud as ever for the first graduating class of Silver State High School.

“Our graduating class is proving all of our dreams,” said Principal Steve Knight. “I can hardly describe my pride.”

Five seniors received their diplomas Friday night at the Brewery Arts Center. Nathan Cowden, one of them, stood in his blue robe in the upper stairwell with four of his female classmates and listened to registrar Carrie Glon dissipate last-minute fears about tripping.

“Just step directly on the stage,” she said. “Take the diploma with your left hand and shake with the right.”

And the five students proceeded into the upstairs room of the arts center, walking to their front-row seats through an audience of more than 60.

“I think it’s a privilege (to be in the first graduating class),” said 17-year-old Rhiannon Dent, who wore black flip-flops with her white gown and has plans of becoming a chiropractor.

Her classmate, 17-year-old Ashley Prause, who wore white flip-flops and was graduating after just three years of high school, plans to study nursing.

“I just wanted to get finished and get started on college early,” Prause said.

A daycare center kept both girls working full-time through high school.

Graduate Erica Lampkin, whose co-workers from J.C. Penney came to see her graduate, had the same story of full-time work as well as school.

“I think (attending school at Silver State) made her be really self-motivated,” said co-worker Lacy Soukup of Lampkin. “She had to be able to juggle work and go to school at the same time, and there was no one else able to push her to do it.”

Silver State High School is a long-distance online education school, the first such charter school in Nevada to be endorsed by the state.

“I had to change my excuse from the dog ate my homework to the computer had a virus,” said Cowden of the school’s online technology during his short commencement speech.

Guest speaker Secretary of State Dean Heller told the students it was a privilege to speak at the first commencement ceremony for Silver State.

“I do not believe in one size fits all education,” he said. “And you are going to be the fruit and effort of all these people’s dreams.”

The graduating class included nine seniors, two who were not present because of the distance and two others who had conflicts. Four seniors, Cowden, Prause, Jessica Wagner and Karis Daphne, are eligible for Millennium Scholarships.

“One of the most memorable things of this year is that (this) worked,” said Knight. “When the kids came in at the beginning of the year, the technology had to be ready for them and it had to work and it did.”

He said when he opened his first charter school in Las Vegas four years ago, the graduating class had just one senior; that’s why he was so proud Friday night that Silver State High School had nine graduates.

“We had a really super group of students that did a dynamite job,” he said.

– Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.