The Viroqua High School Class of 2020 closed their senior year Saturday morning with a graduation ceremony on the high school track.
With physical distancing at the forefront, seniors lined up by numbers chalked on the sidewalk leading into Blackhawk Field and processed to the track, where chairs were spaced 6 feet apart. Seniors were allowed to have two family members in attendance, and those family members sat in the bleachers at the proper distance. Some people watched the graduation ceremony from the hill on the football field’s north end and from the grassy area east of the chain-link fence surrounding the field.
Jordynn Bahr, class president, welcomed everyone and presented the class officers — Kelsey Shaner, vice president, Chayton Borman, secretary, and Brooks Ekern, treasurer – and salutatorian Josephine Dobbs.
Dobbs said many plans have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, “and we’ve adapted as a class, school and community.”
Dobbs shared a few senior-year memories, which included Cabin Fever Week and the ’80s dress-up day. “During the last semester I hope you took time to look back at these last four years.”
Dobb asked everyone in attendance if they would change anything about high school. “Some of you wouldn’t change anything and some would change something. Graduates, whatever your answer is, take on the next phase by making that change and take your own advice. It’s important to do what makes you happy. There’s little time to waste. Be yourself and reach your dreams. Don’t waste it.”
Before high school principal Jason Cress introduced valedictorian Jared Anderson, he opened his address by thanking teachers, coaches, staff, bus drivers and food service staff for the role they played in the students’ lives every day. Cress also recognized the highest honors students.
Cress told the students world events are going to happen. “They don’t need to define you.”
The principal then asked mothers to raise their hands if they were pregnant on Sept. 11, 2001. “Everyone has a moment in history in their lives. I challenge you not to allow world events to define you. You will have an opportunity to make a difference in the world.”
“Class of 2020 you can be defined by what you do to make the world better,” Cress said. “Treat people well. Go forth and make a positive difference every day.”
Anderson, on behalf of the senior class, thanked all of the people who made Viroqua Area Schools memorable, and thanked the community and parents for their support.
“Class of 2020, today (probably) was not what you expected,” Anderson said. “Some of you may feel underwhelmed. Events negatively changed life for us, but I believe this new and unique memory may provide bigger lessons.”
Anderson said learning is based on experiences. “Hopefully we’ll learn from these challenges. Please look back at your experiences and see how they mold you and how you can learn from them. Don’t be afraid of change or be afraid when times change… Remember changes happen in life; be thankful for the natural tides in life.”
After Anderson’s address, Cress presented the Class of 2020. Each student picked up their diploma from a table as they crossed the stage. The processional and recessional music was provided by the Viroqua Brass Quintet.
Before schools closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, graduation was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 23.
Angela Cina can be reached at email@example.com.
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