While high school seniors often celebrate the “lasts” of their senior year, the Blair High School Class of 2020 got to celebrate some “firsts.”
They were the first class to graduate in the stadium at Krantz Field; the first to receive their diplomas during the ceremony rather than after; and the first to have graduation in the morning.
The class — one of the largest to graduate from BHS — finally celebrated its graduation Saturday after the ceremony was delayed nearly three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This pandemic has created change, but being in education, we challenge you to think of the positive lessons it has provided,” Principal Tom Anderson said. “Don't take anything for granted. When you get to be around your friends, enjoy the moment. Slow down. It's OK to enjoy nature and all the beautiful things around us. Family is important and when a crisis hits, they are the people we turn to first.”
The pandemic was a theme touched upon by those who spoke during the ceremony.
Graduate Tommy Thompson welcomed his classmates and their families, who packed the stands, and asked them to take a moment to reflect on the journey they had made together.
“It's been full of ups and downs and marked by countless challenges to overcome, whether they were academic, athletic, personal or viral,” he said.
Lillian Knudtson, who offered the thank you speech, noted they may forever be marked the pandemic class, however, it won't define them.
Samuel Lueders congratulated his classmates on graduating and for the achievements they had worked so hard for.
“While this is a stepping stone that widens your opportunity for the future, it will not be your life's greatest success,” he said. “Now that you have reached the top of the mountain that is high school, you have to find another peak. Whether it is college, the military, entering the workforce or continuing the family business, this next objective will present you with new challenges. These challenges will make a successful future more difficult.”
While some classes have graduated during easy times and times of peace and prosperity, others have faced adversity, trial and heartache “when the very foundations of our lives have crumbled, and the new generation is called upon to remake the world,” Supt. Randy Gilson said.
“Graduates it should be clear by now which category you fall under. We gather here today in the most extraordinary times of difficulty for our brothers, sisters, our families, our school, state, nation and even the world,” he said. “Some of today's challenges we've been presented with we've never seen before. They are unprecedented and they have no easy solutions. Class of 2020, we're counting on you to find a new formula for success to help us change the world.”
During the presentation of the class, graduates lined up to cross the stage, moved their tassels and bumped fists with administrators and school board members before receiving their diplomas at tables set up along the track. Families hooped and hollered, and even sounded air horns, as their graduates' names were read.
BHS choir director Dan Hutsell, who now serves as activities director, led senior choir members as they sang “In the Beginning” for their final performance together.
This was the final graduation ceremony as principal for Anderson, who was promoted to executive director of operations for Blair Community Schools.
“Blair High School really was a great place to be,” he said. “Even though the hair has turned gray, you've kept this principal young at heart.”
Gilson recognized Anderson for his 22 years as BHS principal.
“Mr. Anderson, thank you for ensuring that earning a diploma at Blair High School carries the highest of distinctions and brings with it so much responsibility,” Gilson said.