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‘Oh the places you’ll go’: BHS class of 2014 graduates with honors

More than 300 graduates, and their families and friends, filled the Sanford Center on Saturday for the 2014 Bemidji High School Class of 2014 commencement. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 3
MacKenzie Degelder, a Bemidji High School Class of 2014 student council member, speaks about the journey of the class throughout the years and how they have grown in compassion during graduation ceremonies Saturday at Sanford Center. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pionee2 / 3
Band director Derek Wickum leads the concert band and Symphonic Winds in a pre-graduation ceremony warmup Saturday in the Sanford Center. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer3 / 3

Malachi Petersen

BEMIDJI — More than 300 seniors took their final steps as Bemidji High School students Saturday.

The BHS Class of 2014 held commencement ceremonies at the Sanford Center on Saturday.

The class of 310 filed into the center as the Bemidji High School band played the traditional graduation song “Pomp and Circumstance.” After the the processional, James Hess, superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools, kicked off the ceremony with a keynote speech.

In his speech, Hess encouraged students to be innovators and to embrace opportunities.

“America holds a distant advantage over other countries in opportunity,” Hess said.

Hess used his brother as an example of how anyone can become an innovator, relating how his brother patented a new technology that used transducers to produce sound in homes and offices.

“He was an inventor and you, too, can be an innovator,” Hess said.

Hess ended his speech by reading Dr. Seuss’s poem “Oh the places you’ll go.”

Two student speakers were also able to share their thoughts on graduation with their classmates, family and friends.

Student council member Makenzie Degelder started off by taking a selfie with her class. She then spoke about how the class’s attitude changed over the four years of high school.

“By junior year, I saw that we began to treat each other differently than ever before. We began to realize that we were growing up.”

Degelder thanked the parents of the class and the staff of Bemidji High School. She also talked about how the class, even after graduation, would continue to write the story of the Class of 2014 with love and compassion.

“We are the good; the bad; the brave, beautiful and the bold, we’re the Bemidji High School Class of 2014 and we did it!”

National Honor Student California Thorson rounded out the group of speeches, explaining to the audience how students sometimes take basic things, such as a supportive family, a solid community and good schools for granted. She compared the lack of appreciation to a fish who doesn’t know it’s in water.

Thorson told the audience that as students grow and mature they are better able to appreciate the little things in life that were at one point “just part of the landscape.”

“At this point, although we Bemidji High School Class of 2014 are still in our youth and we’re now about to graduate, we now know what the water is. And although it might be years to come before we develop a full appreciation for it, we now at least recognize the value that it holds.”

The Class of 2014 graduated 46 honor students, 50 National Honor Society students and 14 international students. Students also received more than 1,000 hours of college credit during their four years by taking online college classes, on campus college classes and Advanced Placement classes.