As scenes from their senior year played on the Jumbotron overhead and the band played “Pomp and Circumstance,” 439 members of the Andover High School class of 2014 filed into Mariucci Arena for commencement exercises June 8.
After a choir of 49 seniors led classmates and the assembled crowd in singing the National Anthem, fellow graduate Simeon Toronto conducted the invocation.
“Let us open ourselves to the process of becoming full,” Toronto said, then invited classmates to take a moment to reflect on the past year and to imagine victories yet to come.
Senior class speaker Aidan Johnson took the stage and addressed the class of 2014.
“When you think of the potential of us graduates, it’s impossible not to think it’s extraordinary. We’re all in the same boat and we don’t know what’s ahead, but I do know there’s not another group of people in the world I’d want to be in that boat with,” he said.
“Don’t ever forget what we had at Andover, because that will never go away. And now, there’s a whole universe out there to explore and leave our marks on, so let’s get started,” Johnson said to graduating classmates.
Next, Principal Rhonda Dean addressed graduates, sharing final thoughts for her final time as principal of Andover High School. With the close of this school year, Dean ends her career with District 11 and begins a new chapter as principal of Washburn High School in Minneapolis.
“Commencement means the beginning,” she said to graduates. “Look forward at your vision for your future … Your vision will determine how you live your life, so protect your vision. Surround yourself with people who are bigger or greater than you and enlarge your vision by surrounding yourself with those who are living large.”
“See your vision. Protect your vision. Keep your vision in front of you, for your vision is your future,” Dean said, and then presented the class of 2014 for formal acceptance to Anoka-Hennepin School Board member Marci Anderson.
Graduates then filed across the stage, accepting their diplomas and a congratulatory handshake from their principal before stepping into the future.
Finally, Dean bid them her last farewell, her voice catching with emotion as she said, “Congratulations to all of you. It has been my pleasure to serve you as principal.”
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org