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“Something cool about Independence is that we try to strive to know your story,” Principal Jacob Griffin says, addressing the students at the Independence High School Senior Assembly. Several students nod, others quiet down to listen.

“You might be annoyed with how many questions we ask you– about how school is going, about how you’re doing that day. But your teachers know you so well that they can sense when you’re having a rough day. We ask you questions because we care about you.”

Independence High School held its Senior High School Assembly to kick off the year and introduce its counselors. The assembly is the first large-scale assembly they’ve held in two years, and from the strong waves of cheers and rallies, it’s clear that students are feeling the communal atmosphere set by staff.

Students walked in and found a four-person band composed of Independence High staff, with Principal Jacob Griffin on drums. Cannons fired– shirt cannons– blasting Independence High school merch. Teachers tossed hats into the student crowd. Several students stepped forward to play a minute-to-win-it Oreo eating contest where contestants attempted to slide an Oreo from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands.

Counselors then introduced themselves, sharing stories from their lives before concluding with some advice. One counselor, a Provo native, traveled across the country over the summer, and another out-of-state counselor moved to Provo after losing a bet. A third counselor detailed their favorite extracurricular activities: “coffee-brewing and birdwatching– that’s pretty much my life outside of counseling.” The last counselor offered some sage advice: “graduate one day at a time. If you show up, we counselors and teachers will push you through the work. So come to school, and graduate one day at a time.” 

The assembly concluded with Jacob Griffin’s address. As an outside visitor, one sensed a shift in tone and mood. Staff and students shared looks reserved for communities with history, communities who have weathered highs and lows together. 

“We all know you, and you know us. When I look around and see your faces, I love that I know where you’ve been and where you’ve come from– that matters to me. Everyone standing behind me cares so much that you, you specifically and personally, walk across the stage in May. Get your diploma for your family, friends, and yourself.”

“Do your best as a senior for you and your classmates, and I promise you that we at Independence will get you where you want to go.”

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei