Richard Reeve, fifth and sixth grade teacher at Dutton/Brady Public Schools, encouraged the 2020 graduating seniors to be true to themselves and find the one thing that makes them special and go with it.

Reeves offered this advice to seniors Clay Blankenship and Corbin Schroeder at the graduation ceremony held in front of school officials and the graduates’ families on May 16 in the school auditorium. The ceremony was live-streamed for community and family members cheering on the graduates from afar.

Reeves, wandering away from the podium to speak directly to the graduates, assured them that making the most money will not guarantee happiness. “Life is short, enjoy each day like I have being a teacher,” Reeves said. “Truly, it really isn’t about having a job that makes a lot of money but more about the differences you make in other people’s lives.”

He joked when saying he has experienced “drive by” parades long before they became popular. His “parades” have consisted of students greeting him from the hallway as they pass by his classroom. “The greetings are just a moment in time that show me the difference I’m making in a student’s life,” he said.

During his remarks, Reeves recalled having Blankenship in his class as a new student who moved from California. Reeves painted the picture of students outside on a chilly Montana day building a snow fort. It had only been 15 minutes when Blankenship told Reeves something was wrong. “He described his symptoms: watery eyes and a runny nose. He was sure he was sick,” Reeves laughed. “I assured him he was okay and welcomed him to cold weather.”

“Clay contemplated my answer,” Reeves said, “and informed me that he was allergic to cold weather.”

Reeves assured everyone that Blankenship has adjusted to the cold weather and has made his mark on Dutton/Brady School, just as Schroeder has, in the two years he was a student there.

Like a good teacher, Reeves asked the seniors if they had any questions as he concluded his speech.

Superintendent Erica Allen also spoke of the impact the two students have made at Dutton/Brady. She noted Schroeder was the quieter student and Blankenship a bit more outgoing. “Despite their different approach to life, they have both been leaders in their own way and have had a big influence on the younger students of the district,” Allen said.

During their individual speeches, Blankenship as the class valedictorian and Schroeder as salutatorian, encouraged the younger students to take their education seriously.

“High school is like toilet paper, you will only miss it when it is gone,” Blankenship said. Both spoke of fond memories they will remember from their years at Dutton/Brady. They talked of having a smaller-than-normal class size and the benefits of having each other to lean upon. The seniors each thanked the teachers and staff for their support and help and gave extra special thanks to their family members for their love.

Schroeder laughed when he said he would be sharing for years with friends he meets along his path in life, that he was second in his class. “I don’t have to tell them, there were only two in my class,” he laughed.

Leslee Weber, school principal/counselor, presented scholarships to the two seniors.

Blankenship received scholarships from 3 Rivers Communications, Sun River Electric Co-operative, Mary Larson/Boe Brothers, David Mead Memorial, the Nash Coffman Humanitarian Award, Chris Jensen, Dutton/Brady Booster Club and the Dutton Civic Club and Dutton/Brady Education Association.

Schroeder was awarded scholarships from the Daughters of the American Revolution Recognition Award, 3 Rivers Communications, Dutton/Brady School Board and Dutton/Brady Education Association.

Todd Bishop, the high school math teacher, performed the Star-Spangled Banner and music teacher Luke Juras played the guitar and sang a musical selection, “Simple Man.”

School board Chairwoman Mary Erickson assisted in passing out the senior diplomas accompanied by an “elbow” handshake.

Following graduation, community members congratulated the graduates with a parade on the football field.