REPUBLIC, Wash. -

Former Alaska governor and Republican firebrand Sarah Palin had a gift and a message for graduates at a small-town commencement in northeastern Washington state this weekend.

The grads in the high school gym in the town of Republic found a dollar bill taped under their seats. The message, Palin said: "You gotta get off your butt to make a buck."

700 people crowded into the gym for the ceremony. Republic, the government seat of Ferry County, is a town of 1,100 in a historic gold-mining region.

Palin told the audience that in 1964, when her father, Chuck Heath, set out for Alaska from Sandpoint, Idaho, where she had been 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.