The Westby Area High School Class of 2020 was the first-ever graduating class to use the Westby Area High School Norsemen Athletic Complex for a graduation ceremony, Saturday morning.
The Class of 2020 and an audience of family members gathered in a socially distant way on the football field for the ceremony, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 23, but was delayed when school was closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Conor Vatland, senior class president, welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Vatland said being on the stage isn’t important, but what’s done offstage is.
“Once you receive your diploma take a deep breath before leaving the stage. Every door is open, waiting for you,” he said. “Sixty-three days ago we were to graduate indoors… Our senior class is the class with vision. We’re resilient as ever. We’ve learned the value of hard work. With COVID we’ve learned to adapt and change.”
“We are truly capable of accomplishing anything,” Vatland added. “I wish you success in the future.”
When valedictorian Joseph Armbruster gave his address, he also touched on how different life has been in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We live in an extreme and unique time, and it’s a shame we’re not in the field house,” Armbruster said. “We will persevere in these challenging times.”
District Administrator Steve Michaels told the seniors that because of the pandemic, their graduating class will be at the leading edge of change, like what happened in the Roaring ‘20s following the 1918 flu pandemic. “Seize this opportunity.”
After high school principal Robert Bothe presented the Class of 2020 and students received their diplomas, salutatorian McKenna Manske gave the closing address.
“The year wasn’t what everyone expected it to be,” she said. “When you look back, I hope you remember us sitting here together and what we went through and how we persevered. It shows what kind of people we are.”
Toward the end of her address, Manske asked her classmates to move their tassels from the right to the left. “We’re said to be the class with vision – let’s prove it.”
Haley Nelson, a Westby Area High School Concert Choir senior member, sang a song. Other music was provided by Grace Metz, Class of 2021, who played the processional and recessional on the electronic keyboard.
Gerry Roethel, school board president, gave comments on behalf of the board, and Bothe served as master of ceremonies.
Angela Cina can be reached at email@example.com.
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