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Famous producer tells Pateros grads to aim high

Valedictorian says Class of 2014 can take on the world

— Ehren Kruger may be a successful screenwriter and producer of several Hollywood blockbusters, but as he told Pateros High School’s graduating class Saturday, it was a long road to get there.

Kruger, 41, began writing screenplays in high school.

“They were bad. They were really bad,” he said, noting that it took 10 years to sell his first script.

Kruger’s writing credits include four “Transformers” films, “Arlington Road,” “Scream 3,” “The Ring” and its sequel, “Reindeer Games,” “The Skeleton Key” and “Tin Man.” He has also produced four films and one television mini-series.

Kruger is a relative of Jessi Dowers, one of this year’s 23 graduates.

Using anecdotes from his own career, he advised the Pateros seniors to continue aiming high.

“I commend you. You have achieved something remarkable and profound,” he said. “Never stop challenging yourself in some way, no matter how small.”

Several adults in the audience, parents and staff, nodded along when Kruger said the notion “do what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” isn’t true.

“I love my work because it is work, because it is hard, because it matters,” he said. “The things that will provide you the most meaning are the things that are hard.

“When you do test yourself… those will be the achievements you remember.”

The biggest laughs of the ceremony went to valedictorian Lance Evans, whose speech was a blend of sentimentality and optimism.

“I believe that the Class of 2014 is ready to take on the world,” Evans said. “We’re going to take on new obstacles, set new goals and accomplish new things.”

Fresh from a starring role in the “Guys and Dolls” musical last month, he also took the opportunity to entertain the audience.

With a flourish, he unfurled a long sheet of paper and called it his list of people to thank. But when it came down to it, he praised technology first.

“I’d like to thank Google, Wikipedia, and of course the big one… copy and paste,” he said. “Without them, I’m pretty sure none of us would be graduating today.”

Evans thanked the school staff, parents, underclassmen, and his own classmates.

“No matter where we go or what we do, we’ll always have Pateros to unite us as friends,” he said, referring to the class motto by an anonymous author: “We met as strangers, grew as classmates, and leave as friends.”

Evans had been inadvertently competing for the top spot in his class with Dowers and Alyssa Armstrong. With the race too close to call, Dowers and Armstrong were named co-salutatorians.

Seniors also received scholarships during commencement. The Pateros Scholarship Fund gave $2,500 to several students, and more were announced.

The fund has awarded $130,450 to more than 200 Pateros graduates.

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