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Bemidji High School recognizes class of 2022 with traditional commencement ceremony

With the same pomp and circumstance of ceremonies past, Bemidji Area Schools returned to its traditional graduation format to celebrate Bemidji High School’s graduating class of 2022 at the Sanford Center on Saturday.

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Graduates make their way down the aisle during the processional at Bemidji High School’s 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – With the same pomp and circumstance of ceremonies past, Bemidji Area Schools returned to its traditional graduation format to celebrate Bemidji High School's graduating class of 2022 at the Sanford Center on Saturday.

“This is a memorable day for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s because you seniors are graduating and you, your families and all of us here today are celebrating that noteworthy achievement,” Superintendent Tim Lutz said while addressing the graduates. “Secondly, this is the first time we have held a traditional commencement ceremony since 2019.”

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BHS Superintendent Tim Lutz shows off a Bemidji yearbook from 1922 during his speech at Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 were recognized with drive-thru processions in lieu of traditional commencement.

Returning to form this year, the theme of resilience was threaded throughout all speeches of the morning specifically as it relates to the pandemic that affected the class at the end of their sophomore year.

“Sophomore year was a year of tremendous growth, but it was also a year of tremendous turmoil,” graduate Madysen Schmidt said in her senior address. “At a time of unprecedented chaos, we persevered through the challenges of virtual learning, competing in our sports and activities in unique ways, and staying in touch with our friends and family.”

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More than 300 graduates gather at the Sanford Center for Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

With in-person learning remaining mostly intact this past school year, this return to normalcy brought about a new perspective for several students as they continued pursuing their athletic, artistic and academic ambitions.

“No matter what has pushed us back, we have prevailed,” graduate Lauren Berg said during her address. “While many thought that distance learning and COVID would dampen our accomplishments, we said otherwise. We proved that we are so much greater than the circumstances of the time.”

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BHS graduate Lauren Berg speaks during Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

BHS Principal Jason Stanoch provided some notable numbers and class accomplishments during his speech to the attendees.

Out of more than 300 graduates, the high school's class of 2022 recognized 106 academic letter winners, 69 graduates with grade point averages of 3.9 or higher, 59 honor graduates, 50 members of the National Honor Society, two graduates with hero cords for blood donation and one national merit scholar finalist.

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BHS graduate Tyson Bjornerud, right, receives his diploma during Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Of the graduates, 63 earned 89 medallions across 91 career pathways within the Bemidji Career Academies and there were 13 graduates from Lumberjack High School. The class also represented 11 tribal nations and had six international exchange students.

Collectively, the 2022 class completed 359 Advanced Placement and College in the High School courses. They earned 1,195 college credits, which equates to 10 bachelor’s degrees from a four-year university.

Graduates are attending an array of colleges including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music, Columbia University, Southern University of New York Oswego and what’s considered the most difficult research university to gain admission to, Tufts University.

Lastly, the class earned a record $3 million in scholarships , for which they were recognized at a May 19 senior awards program.

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A graduate moves her tassel to the left side after receiving her diploma during Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

With tassels moved to the other side of their caps and diplomas in hand, the graduates are equipped with grit — another theme of Stanoch's speech — that will carry them through whatever life throws at them.

“Here I stand with the future awaited and experience assures me that there will be struggles,” graduate Aiyana Fairbanks said. “But big or small, they just might turn out to be miracles after all.”

The full graduation ceremony can be viewed on the Bemidji Area Schools YouTube channel.

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A graduate plays with the BHS Symphonic Winds during a performance of “Opa!" during Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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A graduate sports a “Class of 2022” cap at Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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The BHS acapella choir sings “When the Earth Stands Still” during Bemidji High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2022, at the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Daltyn Lofstrom is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on education and community stories.
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