Palisade High speakers tout many successes of seniors

Clutching her tassel and diploma, Natalie Combs flashes a smile while shaking hands with Palisade High School Principal Matt Diers at Monday evening commencement ceremonies at Stocker Stadium.

Lindsey Erb, valedictorian 
at Palisade 
High School, high-fives a gauntlet of teachers after receiving her diploma Monday evening at Stocker Stadium.

When her 209 other classmates were hitting the books at Palisade High School this winter, senior Natalie Combs was halfway around the world.

Combs, 18, had always wanted to do a mission trip, so she jumped at the chance to travel with a friend and volunteer for two months teaching preschool and cuddling babies at an orphanage in Uganda.

“The culture is really awesome,” she said. “They’re so caring and so happy. Everyone there is so grateful for what they have.”

Since returning in March, Combs said she is settling back into life in the Grand Valley. Combs graduated alongside her peers Monday night, with all graduates decked out in the school’s colors of white and maroon.

Come fall, the four-year soccer starter for Palisade will play for Sonoma State University in California. She earned a nearly full-ride scholarship to attend the school and she plans to major in kinesiology to become an occupational therapist, like her mother.

“I’m really excited to get on to that chapter,” she said.

Palisade’s graduating class may be the smallest of the Grand Valley’s main high schools, but parents and fans of the graduates packed grandstands on both sides of Stocker Stadium on Monday evening.

Salutatorian Samantha Moore said she initially felt it was unfair when her school held classes for all students on a day when other District 51 high schools had a day off for all students except juniors. Or, she recalled, how harsh it seemed that students couldn’t get into the cafeteria without identification.

“After I thought about it, I thought this is what makes Palisade so great,” she said in her speech to students.

Other speakers touted the successes that the senior class helped usher in, including seeing the football team make it into the playoffs, the cross-country team head to the state championships for the first time, and success for the volleyball team and music programs.

Valedictorian Lindsey Erb urged her fellow graduates to “stay curious” and follow dreams of becoming all they want.

Erb said she will remember high school for two things: playing lacrosse and procrastination. Although she warned against procrastinating because it can keep you from being your best, a chuckle went up in the crowd when she revealed her secret.

“I have to be honest,” she said. “I wrote this speech this morning.”


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