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Opportunities ahead: Blackduck holds graduation ceremony

The photo above is a panoramic image of the Blackduck High School gym during the 2014 commencement ceremony. Photo by Jillian Gandsey. 1 / 2
Pictured is valedictorian Caleb Mostad turning the podium to face his fellow graduates during the high school commencement ceremony last Friday. Photo by Jillian Gandsey.2 / 2

Hundreds filled the Blackduck High School gym last Friday to support nearly 50 graduates.

Friends, family, teachers and staff were welcomed by the high school band to the commencement ceremony that boasted accomplishments to send off seniors.

Before the graduates took the spotlight, Principal Randy Hansen introduced an unfamiliar face to the crowd and also his replacement for the 2014-15 school year, Joshua Grover.

“I’m extremely honored to be standing in front of such supportive parents, a vested community and amazingly dedicated staff and students,” Grover said after he took the stage.

He spoke of opportunities, both for the Class of 2014 and for the future of Blackduck High School. Grover also acknowledged the opportunities with the influx of technology that will soon take over the school.

“As a husband and father of three, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given to serve the community,” Grover said.

“Students, those graduating and those that I promise to get to know, we ensure, we encourage, empower, enrich and embrace so that you may now move forth and seek and seize opportunity find it, harvest it, exploit it, some may be obvious, some very subtle, but you will be given opportunities.”

Salutatorian Maile Olson took to the podium next with her speech titled “Unoriginal Thinking.”

“Love is louder than the pressure to be perfect,” a quote from Demi Lovato that Olson had on her hat, has helped her realize that the people who she matters to wouldn’t mind if she is herself, imperfections and all, she said.

“Once I get the hang of being myself, life is so much better,” Olson said. “It’s no fun being overly self-conscious all the time about everything.”

The graduate said she collects quotes that she finds either entertaining, helpful, interesting or empowering.

“What I’m going to do is simply pass on some quotes, some life advice, if you will,” Olson said before she read some of her favorites. “Maybe you’ll find it exceedingly boring but maybe you’ll find one that just sticks in your mind and helps you out, like what happened to me.”

Following Olson’s speech, the high school choir sang “Over the Rainbow” and then the attention turned to valedictorian Caleb Mostad for his speech “What I Learned in School.”

Mostad recognized those who made graduation possible then turned his back to the crowd and spoke to his fellow classmates, who were seated behind him.

“All of you guys sitting right here in front of me, tonight’s not really about you, though, and to be honest I shouldn’t really be talking to you right now,” Mostad said to the crowd before turning. “Tonight is about us — the graduating Class of 2014!”

Mostad reminisced of memories with other students and teachers. He commended the teachers at Blackduck High School for not only teaching them facts, figures, names or dates but giving them life lessons as well.

“It is education experiences like these that make Blackduck really home and really a school to be proud of,” Mostad said.

Hansen gave the closing speech of the ceremony listing extracurricular accomplishments of the Class of 2014 and also mentioning that Blackduck High School ranked 39th out of 600 schools in the state and the Elementary School ranked 10th.

He then followed suit with Mostad, turning the podium to speak directly to the graduates.

“I’m going to bestow upon you all of my knowledge at once,” Hansen said.

“People in life will forget what you said to them, they will forget what you’ve done but they will never ever forget how you made them feel. I will never forget you guys because of how you made me feel and I want you to know how much I appreciate you.”

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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