Murray High School graduates heard prayers from two denominations as well as speeches from four of their classmates at graduation ceremonies held Thursday night.
Counselor Tom Bramble, chairman of the school's commencement committee, said he has heard no complaints about the decision to continue the tradition of having prayer at graduation.Students in other Utah school districts have gone to court over the practice. The Jordan School District no longer allows prayers at graduation ceremonies.
This year, students at the Murray School District's only high school listened to a Jewish prayer in addition to one offered by a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Four seniors selected by the 250-member graduating class also spoke at the commencement exercises. They were Erik Myrup, Heather Fitzgerald, Joshua Dalton and Tanya Summerhays.
Myrup based his speech on advice from the person he said inspired him the most during his high school career, soccer coach Bill Forrest. "As it is in soccer, so it is in life," Myrup told his peers.
He repeated a talk given to the Spartan soccer team by Forrest three years ago. "I've never been one for a lot of hoopla or cheers," Myrup said the team members were told.
"Winning a soccer game comes from here and here," Myrup recounted pointing first to his head and then to his heart.
"I've found this to be very true for I've played on teams that could cheer as loud as all get out but never win a game, and then I've played on teams that just went out and won," Myrup said.
The coach's statement about winning makes "it very clear that you can't score goals without your heart in the game and your head on the ball, and if you can't score goals, winning becomes rather difficult," he said.
Saying the graduates are not even in the "halftime of life yet," Myrup said their futures depend "on us keeping our hearts and heads in the game; not the game of soccer, but the game of life."
Myrup, who has been a varsity starter on the Murray soccer team for four years, plans to attend the University of Rochester in New York on a science scholarship after completing a mission for the LDS Church.
Fitzgerald took a different approach to this year's theme, "At the End of the Road, Lies the Beginning of Time." She based her speech on the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken."
She recited the poem, which includes the lines, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
She then told her classmates that graduation is not a stop but a divergence, a time to look back at what they have overcome and look forward to what they want to become.
"Whatever you want to become is your choice. Whatever road you choose is your choice. I really feel you have the total power to become whatever you want to be in life.
"If you just dream something, you can have that because it is your choice," she said. Fitzgerald's dream is to write poetry and stories for children. Her work has already been published by children's magazines.
Dalton, who titled his speech, "Our Earth, Our Future," has been active in drama and debate at Murray High School. Summerhays, whose speech was titled, "Journey," is also involved in drama and debate.