This was the third year graduation has taken place at Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
And the ceremony gave the large audience of parents, family and friends plenty to cheer and applaud from the moment the seniors entered the arena to the strains of Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1” played by the Coon Rapids High School Band, directed by Brian Duffy, to the end of the ceremony when school staff fired streamers over the seniors to celebrate their graduation.
There were speakers and music before Anoka-Hennepin District 11 School Boardmembers Marci Anderson and John Hoffman presented the graduating seniors with their diplomas.
Then came the commencement rite where the seniors switched the tassel on their cap from one side to the other to denote their graduation, the school song, the throwing of the caps in the air and the streamers.
Emcee Kristin Carlson, a member of the student council executive board, opened the ceremony with an invocation.
“It’s time to reflect on the past and imagine the future,” she said.
Class orations were delivered by Abby Boyce and Hawi Tilahune, who were chosen by audition.
Boyce spoke about the journey seniors have taken through elementary, middle and now high school and said it was now time to “look toward the future,” while not forgetting the experiences and friendships.
“Always remember those great experiences,” Boyce said. “This is a great accomplishment for all of us.”
According to Tilahune, graduation is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
“Set goals and pursue those goals with dedication,” Tilahune said. “Seize the opportunity.”
And she extended her gratitude to all those who had helped her achieve high school graduation.
High school graduation is testament that hard work and persistence does pay off, according to Anoka-Hennepin District 11 Superintendent Dennis Carlson.
Carlson thanked parents and the community for passing the school levy last year to ensure the continued quality of education in the district, which is the only one in Minnesota to graduate more than 3,000 students each year, he said.
The Coon Rapids graduating class is bright and talented with 80 percent going on to college, Carlson said.
He emphasized to parents that two-thirds of the seniors had taken college courses while in high school saving parents anywhere rom $5 million to $10 million in college costs.
“We value your support of public education, which is critical in a democracy,” Carlson told parents.
Principal Dr. Annette Ziegler, in presenting the class to District 11 School Board members John Hoffman and Marci Anderson, who presented the diplomas, paid tribute to the support of parents, grandparents and other family members in the students’ lives.
She gave her top 10 tips to the graduating seniors.
They included work hard; be positive; dream big dreams; if you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything; find ways to serve others; make choices wisely; remember your faith; and have courage.
Besides the band playing the processional and recessional, the Coon Rapids High School Concert Choir ensemble Vision, directed by Patrick Geiger, sang the national anthem as well as “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” arranged by Freddie Perrin and Christine Yarrin.
Those performances were signed by Beyond Silence, an American Sign Language group comprising hearing, hard-of-hearing and deaf students, directed by Joy Udvig.
Peter Bodley is [email protected]