REPUBLIC, Wash. (AP) — Former Alaska governor and Republican firebrand Sarah Palin had a gift and a message for the 26 graduates at a small-town commencement in northeastern Washington this weekend.
The grads in the high school gym in Republic found a dollar bill taped under their seats. The message, Palin said: “You gotta get off your butt to make a buck.”
The Spokesman-Review reported that 700 people crowded into the gym for the ceremony Saturday. Republic, the Ferry County seat, is a town of 1,100 in a historic gold-mining region.
Palin said that in 1964, when her father, set out for Alaska from Sandpoint, Idaho, where she was born just a few months before, the family had car trouble. She said they stopped in Republic, where a mechanic fixed the car for a pittance and sent them on their way.
“You got us on our path,” Palin said.
That was a big part of the reason Palin accepted an invitation from senior class President Tyler Weyer to be the graduation speaker. The class posed in the school’s front yard holding a “We Want You, Governor Palin!” banner that got attention on Facebook.
Palin’s presence lent a little extra pomp and circumstance to the annual tradition. The ceremony featured caps, gowns, squealing infants and tearful parents, the newspaper reported.
There were also reminders of rural Washington.
Senior Heather Giddings received the home economics award as the “best wild game cook in Eastern Washington.” Giddings and her classmates celebrated their accomplishment on a stage flanked by paper banners bearing the class motto: “You Only Live Once.”