HATS OFF TO YOU!
Even though a gust of wind every now and then removed a mortarboard off the head of one of the 48 seniors, having an outdoor commencement at K.P. Kompelien Field for the second straight year pleased the majority of the seniors and their friends and family in attendance.
"Much better than being inside where it gets uncomfortable with so many people in one place," said one parent.
"This is where graduation should be every year," said another.
When Thor Fischer was reminded that the baseball mound he has spent time pitching from this year was not far from where he would receive his diploma, he flashed a big smile.
"That's pretty cool," he said. "I like having this outdoors. I wish it wasn't quite so warm, but it would have been pretty hot in the gym today."
The commencement exercise kicked off with the band, under the direction of John Voit, playing the customary "Pomp and Circumstance" as the seniors proudly walked out and were led to their seats in the grass in front of the bleachers of where the football field is located.
Senior Class Vice President Braeden Panka gave the welcoming address and introduced this year's Salutatorian, Braxton Downing, who spoke first.
"We have all been through a lot this past year, but there is one more life lesson to be learned," Downing said. "Always make sure people remember you for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons. People will never forget how you made them feel."Co-Valedictorians Audra Buysse, Reid Fier and Abby Rost then stepped up to the stage and took turns relaying all the things the class was able to achieve despite the pandemic challenges, including individual and team accomplishments. They also thanked their classmates, administrators and families for the milestones they were able to achieve.
Instructor Matt Buysse was the guest speaker for the evening and gave an inspirational talk.
"You have led by example and are leaving a legacy for future classes to follow," he said. "Your perseverance and persistence is nothing short of amazing.
"Your next step is about finding yourselves. If you get lost, don't be afraid. Life is hard with so many unexpected things. You can't worry about what others think. Believe in yourself. Life is like a book, full of pages of your life and full of chapters yet to be filled. Make your book extraordinary. Fill those chapters with positive things. Don't be afraid to fail. Attack every day as if it were your last."
The honor students were then introduced by Superintendent Dan Deitte and the presentation of the class was made by High School Principal Jeremy Frie. School board members Carmen Panka and Tom Skorczewski handed out the diplomas.
As the seniors all returned to their seats, Deitte asked them to turn and face their parents and to slide their tassels to the other side of their mortarboard to signify they were now officially graduated. With that, many of the seniors flung their caps high into the air as the crowd cheered.
Following the graduation ceremony, the seniors went back to the high school parking lot, got into various vehicles, and were then paraded around town so community members unable to attend the commencement exercise due to pandemic restrictions could cheer and congratulate them.
Some of the seniors tossed candy to the onlookers.
"This is so cool," said one little boy standing on a street corner with a handful of candy.
Most would agree.