By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Blue-gowned graduates of Del Norte High School sat in the sunfilled Mike Whalen Field yesterday waiting to move into the next phase of life.

Some cried, some laughed, but all of them made it to that honorable moment when the tassel is moved from the left to the right side of the mortarboard.

It all started with broken crayons and progressed to M.C. Hammer pants to reading Shakespeare. We made it! said Lance Tackett, senior class president.

Principal Dennis Burns congratulated his students, but warned them the struggle is not over yet.

Youve had to overcome obstacles and Im sure youve wondered whether you were going to make it. Well, you have, but you havent. Its time to participate and make it happen, Burns said. Fifteen of the more than 200 graduates achieved a 4.0 grade point average. Many more received scholarships for college.

Where they will go from here was a lingering question in several of the students speeches. But, a focus on the present moment seemed a definite priority.

Im going to do one simple thing not done enough. Im going to thank my parents, said graduate Tim Dodson, while choking back tears.

But making me go to school and doing my homework wouldnt matter if there werent great teachers here to help us. Simply said, thank you, he said.

Just before lining up to receive their diplomas, a giant beach ball took slow, high bounces from graduate to graduate. After the paper was in hand, the caps went flying in a blue blur.