It's hard enough to not shed a tear when watching your child receive their diploma signifying the end of their time at school. But two other moments during Minneota's 2022 commencement exercises on Saturday afternoon brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance.
An audio was played to the audience inside the Viking gymnasium with a brief "Tribute to Parents" message from each of the 44 graduates. The voice on each message revealed their identity, who they wanted to thank and why, and a complimentary closing. Looking around, it was obvious the messages were emotional for some family members as they wiped their eyes.
Later, the graduates rose from their seats in front of the stage and each grabbed a white carnation, walked out to where their family members were sitting and presented the flower to a loved one, while also hugging each of their parents. Not only was this an emotional time for several of the students, who returned to their seats with tears streaming down their face, but also to family members and even to others viewing the ceremony.
They were both exceptional tributes.This day also marked the final Minneota commencement exercise for superintendent Dan Deitte and high school principal Jeremy Frie, who have each accepted positions at other school districts for next year.
As "Pomp and Circumstances" played, each of the members of the graduating class walked to the front of the stage to find their seats.
Abby Frie, the senior class co-president, then took the stage to welcome those in attendance and had a message for her classmates.
"Welcome to a new chapter," Frie said. "Make it a good one."
Salutatorian Alyssa Engels and Valedictorian Summer Hennen delivered eloquent speeches to their classmates and visitors.
Engels' message had to do with how failure can be turned into a positive.
"Don't be afraid to fail," she said. "Failure is one of the best ways to learn and grow. I hope all are successful. This is why I hope we all fail occasionally."
Hennen noted how all the hard work they have done in school and in future years will pay off.
"It's like a flower that blooms and shows off everything it's worked so hard for," she said. "We will bloom, too. Some will get job and some will further their education. The next four years will be hard. We will make decisions that will change our lives forever. Some day we will look back and wonder why we were so afraid of the future."
The high school band, which included some of the graduates, then played "The Incredibles" while being directed by John Voit.
Retired teacher Mary Noyes was the keynote speaker. Her theme, "Find Your True Colors", delivered a powerful message to this year's graduating class.
"Not everything is going to be liked in our life," she said. “Forge ahead. You will want to win or succeed in the end. Don't give up. Your true colors will show your next step. Stay true to yourself. Listen to your heart or through your mind. Find out what's going to work. Learn how to accept defeat. In the long run, you will find out who you are."
As Noyes neared the end of her speech, her voice trembled as she noted that she has known most of these students since they were first starting out in school.
"I love all of you," she said, barely able to get the words out. Several of the seniors let out a scream as if they echoed her sentiments.
The honor students were then recognized on the stage, followed by the handing out of the diplomas.
Please see the graduation edition of the Mascot located under the "Special Section" area on the website for a tribute to each of the 44 seniors, as well as those businesses and families who supported them.