Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and Laporte schools joined other high schools around the state by holding graduation ceremonies Friday night.
Unlike last year’s hot and humid weather, temperatures this year were cool with overcast skies that gave way to sunshine as the services concluded.
Forty-nine students at WHA and 16 at Laporte received their diplomas and officially began a new chapter in their lives.
Commencement at WHA took less than an hour and included two speeches by graduates, the Rod Northbird drum group performing an honor and travelling songs, performances by the band and choir and the presentation of diplomas. Indian Education Director Michael Anderson also presented blankets to five Native American graduates.
Alexa Kennedy was the first speaker and gave the welcome from the Class of 2019. “I am excited and honored to be speaking to you all today. We are here to celebrate our graduation as we have made it through some of the most interesting years of our lives. We did everything together, both the good and bad, Kennedy said. “No matter what we did, it was always together. It’s hard to believe that we went from four-year olds just meeting for the first time, to seniors in high school who are close as brothers and sisters.
“It’s weird to be leaving this place. We have spent so much time here together that it has become like a second home,” Kennedy continued. “Today, the separation from our everyday routine will start. We will miss our conversations and time we’ve spent together. So, I want to take a moment to thank you. Thank you teachers, staff and classmates for your support throughout our journey these past 13 years. I will cherish our memories forever.”
Isaiah Boyer gave the farewell, and at times, struggled with his emotions, as he said he probably would at the beginning of his speech.
“This marks the end of making memories for a lot of us. This is one of the last days that the majority of us will ever see each other again, and last week was our last time sitting at the same lunch table with our friends, going to class together, coming in to the school in the morning to meet up with friends. For some that is a plus, but for others it might just be a realization that our life is moving forward more quickly than expected,” Boyer said. “Even though this might be our last day together, I know I’ve gained a lot of stories from this school as have some of you, I’m sure.”
Boyer ended his comments talking about the class song, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by Trace Adkins. “It gives it to us straight: ‘You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by this fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now but, your gonna miss this,” the lyrics state.
“I just wanted you all to know this from the purist place in my heart, that I am really happy to have met you all. You guys are and were my first steps toward adulthood. I’ll miss you guys.”
After the diplomas were handed out by school board members and administration, Principal Ryan Jensen had some final comments before presenting the Class of 2019.
“This ceremony tonight brings to a close a chapter of your lives. I hope your leaving here tonight feeling like a chapter you are closing has had a positive impact on your life thus far. I hope you cherish the memories you have made, and when your are much older and watching your children … you think back to your time at WHA and smile,” Jensen told the graduates.
Jensen ended his comments by quoting UCLA great college basketball coach, John Wooden. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
“ And that’s what I hope you remember about my remarks tonight. And while you are leaving WHA, you will always be part of the Wolfpack.”
The 16 students receiving their diplomas speeches at Laporte School was the largest graduating class in a number of years.
Commencement included comments by Superintendent Kim Goodwin and Principal AJ Dombeck, awarding several scholarships, speeches and handing out diplomas.
Honor student Hannah Kahlstorf was the first graduate to address those who packed the gymnasium.
“Your life will be full of setbacks, but how you handle them will make all the difference. If you live your life fearing failure, you will not succeed. Go out of your comfort zone. Show life who’s boss,” Kahlstorf told her classmates. “Do not lose sight of what really matters.”
After thanking her father, grandmother, speech coaches and several teachers, Kahlstorf thanked her peers for coming together as a family and getting through the first chapter of their lives. “I will miss every single one of you so much. We’ve grown so much as a class, and it’s bittersweet to see it end. Thank you and good night.”
After a slide show highlighting each of the seniors, school board members and administrators handed out the diplomas. Of course a graduation isn’t complete until the traditional tossing of mortarboards and the recessional music.