The 320 members of the Bemidji High School Class of 2009 will graduate Saturday, but they already show signs of nostalgia in their class motto.
They chose the anonymous words: "You never really leave a place you love; part of it you take with you, leaving a part of yourself behind."
The commencement exercises will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Bemidji State University John Glas Fieldhouse. The ceremony will honor the graduates with music, speeches and awarding of diplomas.
The BHS Concert Band and Symphonic Winds under the direction of Derek Wickum will open the event with a processional and the "Star Spangled Banner." The music will continue with the Symphonic Winds playing "Abram's Pursuit" by David Holsinger; "Advent Motet" by O.C. Christiansen and "Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal" sung by the A Cappella Choir directed by Chris Fettig; "The Great Gate of Kiev" by Modeste Mussorgsky performed by the combine Prep, Philharmonia and Symphony Orchestras under the direction of Gene Scott; and recessional by the Concert Band and Symphonic Winds.
Jim Hess, Bemidji School District superintendent, will introduce the platform guests, and BHS Principal Richard Anderson will present the graduating class. The Bemidji School Board members will award the diplomas. Mike Furfaro, Julie Maus, Kristen McRae and Rick Toward will introduce the graduating seniors.
Speakers will be Megan Casper with an address titled, "Be Courageous ... Love," and Landon Oakes with an address titles, "What Do I Owe My Neighbor."
Anderson said BHS doesn't recognize valedictorians or salutatorians. He said the speakers are students from the class who would like to address their peers. Those interested submit their speeches, and a panel of six teachers comes to consensus about which two would be most appropriate and effective.
The ceremony also will feature junior honorary ushers Iva Bilanovic and Mikaela Karstens and flower attendants Forrest Guilfoile and Elizabeth Richards.
Many graduates will hold parties at their home Saturday afternoon. Then in the evening, they will attend the all-night "Feeling Fine in 2009" party from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday at the BSU Gillett Recreation and Fitness Center. Parent-sponsored activities will feature food, prizes, the rock-climbing wall, video and card games, music, mini-golf, dancing and a hypnotist. Prizes will include cash, iPods, TVs, Wii game system and other items. The cost is $25 per senior at the high school or at the door.