They may have been socially distant, but the Falls High School Class of 2021 graduated together, among invited guests, in Bronco Arena Sunday.
Instructor Karla Line welcomed graduates, telling them that the word “commencement” is an appropriate word to use, because the day represents new beginnings and a promising future
Line reminded the class that they didn’t make it this far alone. She urged them to consider their parents, family, friends, faculty and staff who made a commitment to help them realize their dreams. And she told them to take out their phones, and text a thank you to someone special in the room.
Line spoke about the past year, which she said helped them all learn that life is not always perfect, but that great things can be accomplished, regardless of what is thrown at them.
The message was echoed by student speakers Ella Bahr, Anna Windels, Jocelyn Klocek and Bryant Koenig.
Bahr, who will study aerospace engineering at New York University, served as student president, and student school board representative in her four years of high school, noted Principle Tim Everson, in making introductions.
Bahr said class members had been pushed to their limits, faced challenges no other classes had faced and can now go into the world confident in their abilities.
Feeling a range of emotions, including exhilaration and exhaustion, Bahr said graduation allows them to imagine their future in a world they can and will create.
Windels, who will study environmental science at the University of Minnesota, said the day represents the end of an incredible journey on a long and difficult road.
She described the past year as chaotic, exhausting and extremely demanding. But said she would focus on the future, which is each of theirs to fill.
Their education has provided them with the growth and skills necessary to take on the word, Windels said.
Celebrate today, and one another, she urged her classmates.
Klocek, who will study high school social studies and music, said the classmates had watched one another change and grow into adults.
She urged each of them to stand up for themselves, to be proud of who they are, and to feel confident in being themselves, despite sometimes being afraid, angry or hurt in life.
Koenig, who will seek a degree in mechanical engineering, and play baseball at Viterbo University, told his classmates they are the master of their own destiny. And only they, themselves, can stand in their way of their destiny.
He urged the class to turn its celebration into determination to continue on the path of life.
“You get to decide what to do with your life as you leave Falls High School,” he said.
Koenig noted an empty chair among their class for beloved classmate Carter Herberg, who died in December.
Herberg showed up at school each day with a smile on his face, which Koenig said he misses. “You’re memory will live on within all your friends here today,” he said.
Members of the school board, who handed the new graduates their diplomas, provided Herberg a diploma in memoriam.