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Seniors: Bemidji Area Schools

This Saturday, 326 seniors from Bemidji High School and Lumberjack High School will walk across the stage at commencement.

Their hard work has paid off. What now?

"I'm looking forward to going out on the lake fishing," said Shane Teigland.

Kayli Tower said, "I can't wait to work fulltime and make money."

"I'm excited to try new things and get a good start on my life," said Anjali Phukan.

Jake Gruber said he looks forward to leaving Bemidji to work on the Gulf Coast this summer, helping his father with clean-up efforts from the oil spill.

"I hope to work all summer, possibly into the fall," said Gruber.

Ben Kloha said graduating high school will mean more freedom.

"I'm excited to figure things out for myself," he said.

Amanda Minske said she plans to work and hang out with friends as much as possible this summer.

The seniors are excited to graduate, but what they will miss about high school can sometimes be surprising.

Kloha said he will miss being allowed to use all the equipment from the shop classes at school.

"You can't really go to some random shop and ask to use a tool to make a project," Kloha said. "I'll miss being able to use whatever I need."

Senior Mike Rees said he will miss sports the most. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota next fall and hopes to walk onto the football team.

Other seniors, like Matthew Moriarty are excited to move on and won't miss much.

"I didn't really get attached to anything in school," Moriarty said. "I'm just trying to move through."

Senior Nathan Burnham said he will miss his friends and teachers.

Many seniors agreed their last year of school went by fast. In looking to the future, a few seniors shared where they will be headed next.

Minske said she will attend Bemidji State University in the fall, although she's still undecided on a major.

Moriarty knows he wants to go into medicine.

Teigland said he will be attending BSU in the fall and going into business administration.

"I enjoyed taking College Introduction to Business in school," he said.

Molly Manske said she is excited to go to St. Cloud State University, where she will participate on the college cross-country ski team.

"I've already talked to the coach. I'm on the team - 7 a.m. practices, here I come," she said.

Kloha said he will be enrolled in the culinary arts program at the Art Institutes International in Minneapolis.

"I've always been good at cooking," he said. "It's a short course and you can use it wherever you go."

Phukan said she is excited to get out of town and attend the University of California-San Diego and enroll in the zoology program.

Mary Hernesman, secretary at Lumberjack High School, said she knows one senior who hopes to become a dentist.

There are many seniors who really aren't sure yet what's in store after high school.

Kristi Reise, career professional at BHS, said her main job throughout the school year is to get kids ready for life after high school. She helps them with college applications, scholarships and preparing for college.

"There are some kids who have their life planned until they're 40 years old," she said. "I try as hard as I can to talk to those students who truly don't know what they're going to do. I tll them, 'It's OK. It's going to unfold. The important thing is that you do something.'"

Graduation is usually a pleasant topic for many seniors, but it can also be nerve-wrecking.

"I don't want to leave my mom," Manske said. "I like my friends - I don't want to leave them, either."

Other seniors said they are nervous about not receiving money from their parents anymore, having to be freshmen all over again and having to share living spaces in college.

Reise said this year's graduating class will face less funding available for college tuition financing.

"The amount of money that a student needs to pay for college is definitely greater than what it used to be," she said. "I tell them, 'The tough thing is that sometimes you don't get to go to your dream school. Sometimes you have to pick the second or third choice because it's what your family can afford.'"

So what about the cafeteria food in high school - won't anyone miss it?

A few seniors said while they may not miss it, they did have some favorite meals which included Taco Tuesday," spicy chicken and wild rice soup.

BHS Principal Brian Stefanich said he looks forward to commencement, not just because the seniors are the first to graduate while he's principal of the school, but some of the graduates are students he taught as third-graders at J.W. Smith Elementary School.

The class of 2010 has chosen a blue rose as its flower; blue and silver as its colors, and "End of Summer," by Theory of a Deadman, as its song.

The class selected the quote, "All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us," spoken by Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings."

BHS commencement ceremony is 10 a.m. Saturday, May 29, at the John Glas Fieldhouse on the Bemidji State University campus.