Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 7, 1999
Local graduations 1999
"They have studied hard, their reward is great," said Fr. Paul Wolf of the 21 graduates from Holy Trinity High School at a graduation ceremony May 28.
Graduates proceeded into the gym to the Holy Trinity wind ensemble's rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance," a traditional graduation processional theme.
Wolf greeted the audience and praised the graduates for their accomplishments. Quoting scripture, he advised the students to listen well, and seek out both prudent and wise persons.
Thomas Stifter, president of the education committee, also had words of praise for the graduates. He said that anyone who has had anything to do with the graduating class knows that they are a group to be proud of.
Both the valedictorian, Kimberly Laxen, and the salutatorian, Matthew Aguirre, addressed fond memories of their experiences at Holy Trinity.
Each also thanked parents and the school's staff for their involvement in the graduate's experience at Holy Trinity.
Laxen recalled how her class learned together, at the same time realizing how many experiences, such as classes, games, and concerts would be their last. She also said that the future was another challenge for all the students to engage and each would meet that future with their own special talents.
Aguirre recalled the last day of school fondly. He added that experiences, such as sports victories, were ones that he would always remember.
Lastly, he sent out a prayer to the faculty, staff, parents, and students who were directly affected by the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.
When it came time for the bishop's message to the graduates, it was Sister Betty Larson, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of New Ulm, who took the podium.
She informed the students that Bishop Raymond Lucker was not able to attend the ceremony, but he wished the graduates well. She said that Lucker was preparing to undergo surgery for cancer. She added that she was not aware how serious Lucker's condition was, but that everyone should pray for his recovery.
Larson said that one of the most important lessons that the students received from Holy Trinity was a the development of a personal relationship with Jesus. She advised students to continue with that relationship by taking time to pray every day.
She also thanked the parents of the graduates for supporting Catholic education. Larson also had words of praise for the staff, who she said, "are not here for the money."
Lastly, she told the students that God, their parents, and Holy Trinity would always be there for them.
The students received their diplomas after the wind ensemble played "Where the Black Hawk Soars."
The students then proceeded to one end of the gym, and, in traditional fashion, threw their caps in the air in unison.
The following is a list of students who received scholarships:
Praise from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) Superintendent Riley Hoheisel was given to the graduating class of 1999 for a successful year in sports, drama, and music
Hoheisel told the graduates to rely on the circle of people they know, family and friends, throughout their lives.
Salutatorian Krista Gustad urged her classmates to have courage.
"Don't be afraid to take chances," she said.
"Learn to love and forgive those who hurt you . . . and think over everything you do," said Gustad.
Ben Shaffer, valedictorian, noted that the years of high school are behind his classmates, and said, "I hope you found the tools you need."
The graduates were wished well in their futures by HLWW Principal Michael Day, and he mentioned that $21,300 would be given in scholarships through the generosity of many local organizations and contributors.
A record 28 scholarships were given to members of the class of '99 to further their education in a variety of fields.
Scholarship recipients for 1999 are:
By Luis Puga
LESTER PRAIRIE Both students and staff could not help recount personal memories as seniors celebrated their graduation at Lester Prairie High School on Sunday.
The ceremony, which was held in the gym, saw many speakers recounting memories from the senior class trip, auction collections, and day to day classroom memories.
Chuck Thiel, a teacher who is retiring after 25 years, recalled how some twenty seniors got stuck in an elevator on the class trip. Thiel, whom the class had chosen to give the commencement speech, came out in a shopping cart labeled Mr. Clean.
Thiel said his classroom, room 147, was a gathering place for seniors. There, he formed many memories of the senior class.
After all the inside jokes had subsided, Thiel turned to a more serious tone. He asked the class of '99 if they were ready for change and the future, and asked the same of their parents. He asked parents to give their children guidance and to teach them to be honest with themselves and others.
In turn, he told students to respect and honor their teachers and parents. On a personal note, he told students that despite being suspended twice, he went on to be on the honor roll, and eventually teach at Lester Prairie High School.
Addressing the school board and community, he said that a quality education costs money, and now that it has been decided to keep the school district independent, there will be a lot of work to be done for a good future.
Thiel advised the students going to college to have fun, think carefully, and balance their schedule between study and play. He added that everything they will learn will not be in a classroom or a book.
To those who were moving on to work, Thiel told them to search out work that they wanted, and not to end up in "a dead end." To all the seniors, he told them to go with their "best friend," God.
In closing, he said he hoped he will leave a positive legacy at Lester Prairie schools, and added many thanks to his family, his community, and friends. Afterwards, Thiel received a gift certificate from the senior class and a standing ovation from all who were at the ceremony.
Superintendent James Redfield also had words for the graduating class. He said as they look back on their past, and dream of the future, their community is proud to be with them on their graduation day. He added that with the millennium approaching, the students were standing at the start of a new age.
Redfield added that a great deal of change would be approaching. He said the challenge to each individual student was to make sure that technology remains a tool for the betterment of man kind, to keep people more humane. He closed by saying that the day would be one where everybody would contribute to good memories of commencement.
Students helped to make those memories as Nicole Rehman gave the Welcome speech and Kristin Kulinski gave the Farewell speech. All the seniors joined together to sing The Beatles' "Let it Be," and the Senior Choir sang Garth Brooks' "The River."
Mr. Thiel was not the only retiring staff member at the ceremony. Bill Wittgraf led his "last performance" of the high school band in "Pomp and Circumstance" for the processional, and "Fanfare and Recessional" for the recessional.
LaVonne Guenigsman, who was the cook and kitchen manager, was also retiring. She presented the Minnesota School Food Service Association, Crow River Chapter to Kimberly Knoll for pursuit of education in a food related area.
The following is a list of scholarship winners. They are:
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