The ceremony was typical, with the band performing "Pomp and Circumstance" for the entrance march, the choir singing, the top scholars giving speeches, the scholarship winners being recognized, and the graduates receiving their diplomas.
The only difference was the ceremony was held in the afternoon. On Sunday, to boot.
The Sunday afternoon ceremony continued a recent break with local graduation tradition. Historically, commencement has been held on Friday evening. Last year, the ceremony was moved to Thursday to accommodate state track participants.
With the school year running through Friday this year, graduation was moved to Sunday. Having graduation on the last day of school was judged to be too difficult. High school principal John Janotta invited the audience to contact him with feedback on the Sunday ceremony.
Above: Ryan Lang receives his diploma from school board member Gretchen O'Fallon while Principal John Janotta reads the names of the seniors.
The top two scholars in the class gave addresses at commencement. Joe Halvorson, who ranked second in GPA, gave the Senior Address, and Kelsey Moser, who ranked first, gave the Farewell Address.
"I have to admit there are a million things going through my head right now, as I'm sure there are for each of you," Halvorson told his classmates. Halvorson said his mind was full of visions of success, nervousness for his graduation party, and worry over the rising temperature in the gymnasium.
Despite the class's identical attire, Halvorson noted that underneath the caps and gowns were a hundred unique personalities. He and his classmates were different in their skills, from art to athletics, to their senses of humor and joy. "We've got hearts and minds and everything else," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss that."
Halvorson thanked the teachers for preparing him for graduation. He added that he had learned from his classmates as well, and hoped they had learned from him, too.
In Moser's valedictorian address, she thanked people that had helped the class reach graduation. She started with their parents and teachers. She got her classmates laughing when she singled out the "lunchroom ladies," the school's paper suppliers, and the designers of the elementary playground equipment for special thanks.
Moser, though, found it hard to say farewell to the schools they had called home for 13 years. "It seems like we'll be back here in three months," she said.
Special events, like first dates, had happened during their school years, and special gen formed, Moser said. "No matter if they seem horrible at the time, they really were the best days of our lives," Moser added.
The seven members of the school board took turns in handing out the diplomas to the graduating seniors.
The Class of 2000 included 38 honor students, including 11 who graduated summa cum laude with a GPA of above 3.8. Fourteen graduated magna cum laude with a GPA of 3.5 to 3.8, and 13 earned cum laude honors with a GPA of at least 3.0.
The class has 18 members inducted in the local chapter of the National Honor Society.
The class earned 53 scholarships worth more than $20,000 from the Paynesville Citizen's Scholarship Foundation. Its president, Dean Hanson, announced the winners and remarked that this was a smart group of seniors, worth keeping an eye on.
Janotta announced scholarships from the post-secondary schools. In 20 years, he said this year's class earned the most scholarships and some of the finest.
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