BELGRADE - As hundreds of people slowly made their way into the Belgrade Special Events Center to find their seats, Dexter Jarrett stood in a hallway with some of his fellow graduates.

One of five salutatorians, Jarrett, 18, was draped in a number of colorful cords, each telling a different story.

He is an honors student who finished with a 4.0 grade point average. He was in the Business Professionals of America. He took part in National Honors Society.

And for the last time, he, along with 217 other seniors, was a Belgrade High School student.

“I’m feeling really excited, excited for the next step in my life,” said Jarrett, who is bound for Southern Utah University in the fall to begin pursuing a pharmacy degree.

Jarrett wasn’t alone in the excitement.

Journee Kuhn, 17, was chatting with family and friends shortly before graduation ceremonies began.

“A little overwhelmed,” Kuhn replied when asked how she was feeling. “I’m excited and nervous at the same time.”

High school seemed to fly by quickly, Kuhn said. But she beamed when she talked about heading to Montana State University in the fall.

“It feels weird to be graduating,” she said. “But it’s a good thing.”

The crowd in the Special Events Center was electric when “Pomp and Circumstance” started playing and graduates, donned in black caps and gowns, filed into their seats.

Valedictorians Cassidy Pfingsten and Mariah Young delivered speeches, paying homage to the uniqueness of each one of their classmates.

“Go out and live out your dreams and be unique, because no one else will do it for us,” Pfingsten said.

Looking out at the capped crowd, Young called her class “perfect imperfection.” While life might not always be butterflies and rainbows, she said, happiness comes from the journey.

“You are you for a reason. Never forget that,” Young said.

And, shortly before the graduates lined up to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, English teacher Jimmy Lewis talked about what success is. Throughout the year, Lewis said, he asked his students what they thought success was. He shared their conclusion with the class of 2013.

“Discovering your own unique dream and then pursuing that with everything you’ve got,” Lewis said. “Find out what you’re passionate about and let that desire lead it to wherever it may.”

Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.