By Jennifer Von Ohlen
DASSEL, COKATO, MN Dassel-Cokato celebrated the achievements of its 2017 graduating class at a commencement ceremony Sunday.
Graduating senior Lela Torola opened the event with an invocation prayer, followed by a welcoming address made by classmate Spencer Flood.
After the DC concert and symphonic band performed the seniors’ music selection, “Synergy Rising,” Carola He of Sweden spoke on behalf of the four other foreign exchange students.
She shared with the graduates and attendees her initial fears of taking the journey to the US and becoming immersed in its culture and opportunities.
“I would say what we [foreign exchange students] did was almost brave,” she said. He had to find that bravery again when she was asked to speak at the commencement ceremony a few weeks prior.
While her nerves almost drove her away from the opportunity, the “voice inside” her was more persuasive.
“I was given a chance to do something that I wanted to do, and so I had to do it,” she explained.
Turning toward the DC graduates, she informed them, “Today, I am going to be that voice [for you], to encourage you to do that thing you want to do.” She continued by sending the graduates her best wishes as they embark on their own journeys into the foreign land of their futures.
The faculty address was presented by high school English teacher Ashlee Georges, who actually taught several of the graduates as seventh-graders while she was student-teaching.
Fast-forwarding to their freshman year, Georges reminded the students of how they used to walk the halls with their eyes on their shoes, avoiding interaction with all who passed by.
While the students had grown out of those behaviors by their senior year, Georges assured them they would continue to “have moments of looking at [their] feet and avoiding eye contact,” whether it is due to a college class, a job, or other part of life.
She continued by saying it is important for the students to develop the confidence to trust in their own abilities, and to set their own paths.
Just as the class had set the bar for their underclassmen, Georges concluded by saying, “My hope is that you will continue to leave a legacy wherever you go.”
“We are incredibly proud of you,” added school board chair Rebecca Clemen.