Graduates of East Grand Forks Senior High School and Sacred Heart High School walked in their respective ceremonies Friday evening, May 28.
At the East Grand Forks Civic Center, 126 East Grand Forks Senior High graduates earned diplomas. Of those, 45 graduated with honors, a distinction that requires a GPA of 3.75 or higher. Top students Jaren Sandbeck and Miranda Millette each gave speeches at the ceremony.
The district had initially planned to limit attendance at the ceremony due to COVID-19, but due to a change in CDC guidance at the 11th hour, they decided to open the doors to anyone who wished to attend. After a turbulent school year full of upended plans, the final last-minute change of the year was a welcome one to many.
"Last year, we didn't have two months. This year, we only had three normal ones," Sandbeck said in his speech. "This shows the power this class has. You made it here even if it meant being in a prison cell for a year."
At Sacred Heart, Principal Blake Karas said staff are happy to offer students a nearly identical graduation to ceremonies of years past. Twenty graduates earned diplomas before friends and family in the Sacred Heart gymnasium on Friday.
Valedictorian Gabriella Zimprich gave a speech at the graduation ceremony, and Salutatorian Dana Walski gave a speech at the graduation breakfast Friday morning.
In her speech, Zimprich urged classmates to continue to make sacrifices, work hard and be uncomfortable.
"Life's most beautiful moments and meaningful connections exist outside of our comfort zones, and yet we are often too afraid of getting out of it," she said. "Almost everyone in this room could probably say that there has been a point where they were scared of having discomfort in their life. ... However, if you adapt to the comfortable life, it will make it difficult to overcome (that) comfort zone."
Also speaking at the graduation was science teacher Mike Marek, who is retiring this year after 43 years at Sacred Heart and 46 years as an educator. The Rev. Gerard Braun of St. Michael's Church in Grand Forks opened the ceremony with a prayer, and Bishop Richard Pates, the recently-appointed apostolic administrator of the Crookston Diocese, presided over the graduation.