Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Monroe Catholic High School graduates reflect on close ties

FAIRBANKS - It only takes an audience of 40 to make U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski nervous - so long as the audience is full of Monroe Catholic High School graduates.

Murkowski said to Monroe's class of 2010 that she had been fumbling for words to tell the teens before they graduated Saturday in Boileau Hall.

"I'll admit I was nervous," she told the private high school's 40 graduates. "I give speeches all the time. Many days, I give three speeches a day, but it's different when you come back to those who know you."

The 1975 Monroe grad told the school's 52nd graduating class to be bold as they take on whatever the future holds.

"It's exhausting; it's exhilarating to dream, to push yourself," she said.

As a small school with only about 150 high school students, Monroe was depicted as a close-knit community.

Senior Megan Thomas mentioned that bond in a welcoming speech - noting that 32 of the senior class members had known each other since junior high and 16 since elementary school.

Even in sports, the class has adapted to its small head count and formed the school's first football and baseball teams, which Thomas said were products of their smarts and ability to multitask.

Salutatorian Emily Anderson also touched on the close nature of her classmates.

"These people are my family, no matter how cheesy or tiresome that sounds," she said.

She and valedictorian Elizabeth Bennett, who is a standout runner and swimmer, spoke in tandem. They traded monologues and quoted Dr. Seuss back and forth before reading an ode of their own.

Even Murkowski, 35 years removed from graduating in Boileau Hall, said she felt that connection with the class of 2010, pointing out the relatives she knew from several of the graduates' families.

"I still look at blue and gold and can't think of anything but Monroe High School," she said.

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Source: By Josh Armstrong. Originally published May 09, 2010