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‘We’ve only just begun’: Blackduck High School holds graduation ceremony

The Blackduck High School class of 2017 throws up their caps in celebration at the end of their graduation ceremony Friday, June 2, in the Blackduck High School gym. (Micah Friez | Blackduck American)1 / 3
Valedictorian Sierra Stroeing delivers her speech during the Blackduck High School graduation ceremony on Friday, June 2, in the Blackduck High School gym. (Micah Friez | Blackduck American)2 / 3
Salutatorian Ike Volk addresses the crowd during his speech, as part of the Blackduck High School graduation ceremony on Friday, June 2, in the Blackduck High School gym. (Micah Friez | Blackduck American)3 / 3

This year’s graduating class for Blackduck High School gathered together a final time on Friday, June 2, in their high school gymnasium, to reflect on their shared time, receive their diplomas and finally toss up their caps in celebration.

“This is a moment to relish and a moment to sit and understand that this is big. This is huge,” Blackduck High School principal Joshua Grover said. “Thank you, class of 2017, for challenging us as teachers, leaders, parents and friends to become better people through your outstanding integrity and determination.”

“We’ve experienced so many things, so many aspects of life, together,” salutatorian Ike Volk said in his speech. “It will be a different feeling when we experience these aspects of life with new people. Sure, we’ll all find many more people and new experiences when we go off on the next chapter, but these experiences that we’ve had with each other will always be special and unique in themselves.”

In all, 37 seniors closed their high school careers at the ceremony.

“Tonight, we graduate and take our next steps towards our futures,” said valedictorian Sierra Stroeing. “(The Blackduck community) has faithfully cheered us on through both good times and bad. These are the things we will carry with us and we will miss so much when we move on to our colleges, tech schools and careers. I have been so fortunate to have Blackduck School and the community support us every step of the way.”

Although 37 students walked during the ceremony, there was one classmate missing. An empty chair among the graduates was reserved for Skyayla “Sky” Love, who died in a car accident in 2012. On the fifth anniversary of her death, her classmates were intentional in including Sky in what would have been her graduation ceremony, too.

A shadow box was displayed at the front of the stage, which included pictures, a graduation tassel and stole and a mortarboard signed by all of her classmates.

“I learned from you guys that connections made between people in the classroom are what mattered most,” social studies teacher Pete Ofstedal said to the graduates. “I just wanted to tell you one time while you’re all here, truly, thank you for that.”

The class of 2017 had 10 honor graduates, seven members of the National Honor Society, and five recipients of the President’s Educational Achievement Award. Additionally, seven Drakes were state participants and one was a national finalist for the Business Professionals of America.

“These long, stressful, overwhelming, drama-filled, crying-filled, homework-overloaded and crazy years have finally come to an end,” said Volk. “But, in all honestly, the good times in these past years have easily overshadowed the bad ones. Tonight focuses on the end of a big part of the class of 2017’s lives. But we’ve only just begun.”

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, he is currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bemidji State. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.

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