A cloudy gray sky cast a pale over Goodrich Field the afternoon of June 3, the day of Anoka High School’s 141st annual commencement ceremony.
But Principal Michael Farley kept the faith, determined to award diplomas during an outdoor ceremony that evening. And then, as if on cue precisely at 7 p.m., clouds parted and the sun shone through, casting a brilliant spotlight on the Class of 2013.
Farley stepped up to the microphone, greeting the Class of 2013 and welcoming family and friends who gathered to celebrate the Tornadoes’ achievement.
“I am truly humbled and blessed to be principal of Anoka High School,” Farley said. “I stand here with a smile on my face and pride in my heart for the class of Anoka students before me.”
“My heart is thunderstruck and so full of emotion – Each of you have made Anoka proud and we have learned so much from you … I am confident the Class of 2013 will do great things.”
“From my heart I tell you I’m proud of you. I love you. And I know you will make a difference in the world.”
Class speaker Cory Odom then addressed classmates, first comparing them to a burrito, then characters in a fairy tale, then “an old, beloved car.”
The scratches and dents, the rust and the scrapes each give reminders of milestones reached during the graduates’ high school years, he said.
“But this ride in our old, beloved car is over – We are now in control. Our parents are no longer in the passenger seat telling us which way to turn,” Odom said.
“Use this vehicle to forge your own road and go where no one has gone before.”
The second class speaker, Isabella Dotzler, then took the stage and said life is like a butterfly.
During the caterpillar stage (aka the feeding stage) “we are feeding on knowledge, we are growing, feeding on life,” Dotzler said.
The pupa stage is one of transition, she said.
“That’s high school. And with all we have learned, we are still preparing for the future,” Dotzler said. “Tonight – at our high school graduation – we enter the butterfly stage. We are here because we made it through. We wanted to change and learn and grow and become – and we have.”
“Tomorrow begins the journey of new discovery and opportunity. Don’t let anyone stop you because wings are meant to fly – Go fly into the rest of your life.”
And then, Farley presented the class and diplomas were awarded to the 527 members of the Anoka High School Class of 2013.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org