Grand Forks high schools honor Class of 2021 graduates at commencement ceremonies

About 500 Grand Forks students received diplomas in graduation events celebrating academic milestone

Grand Forks Central graduates Linsey Naastad, Sofia McGee and Lyric McGillicuddy pose for a photo before Sunday's commencement program at the Alerus Center. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Members of the Class of 2021 at Red River and Grand Forks Central high schools celebrated their graduation day in commencement ceremonies Sunday afternoon, May 30, at the Alerus Center.

Red River High School students and their families gathered for a 1 p.m. ceremony. Grand Forks Central High School graduation ceremonies began at 4 p.m.

Speakers for the RRHS graduating class were Gracia Larsen-Schmidt, Shrimayi Patel and Collin Polasky. There were 219 graduates in the Class of 2021 at that school.

Larsen-Schmidt, the school’s yearbook editor, has been active in the fine arts, cross country and track, said Principal Kris Arason.

Patel, who is also active in cross country and track, has excelled in state and national science competitions. She volunteers in the community, has conducted research at UND, and served as an officer on the school’s Student Council.


“She’s a super well-rounded student,” Arason said.

Polasky, a National Merit Scholar, has been active in debate, music and theater productions. He has also served on the school’s Student Council.

During the Grand Forks Central High School commencement ceremonies, 238 graduates received diplomas, according to a school district official.

Speakers for the event were Sarah Burris, Dennis Du and Ellie McGlynn.


Du, who achieved a perfect score on the ACT College Entrance Exam, is one of two North Dakota high school graduates selected as Presidential Scholars. The other is Ellen Gregoire, who graduated May 23 from Larimore (N.D.) High School.

Du has also been active in boys tennis and as a member of the school’s Student Council.

McGlynn has been active on the girls tennis team.

The Class of 2021 commencement ceremonies were more in keeping with tradition compared to spring 2020, when families drove their graduates in vehicles to an outdoor stage at each school to receive their diploma.

This year, at the Alerus Center, students were spaced six feet apart upon entry to their seats and masks were optional. Spectators were encouraged to sit as a family unit and masks were encouraged.

At the Community High School graduation ceremonies Thursday, May 27, Blake Clemetson and Blanca Gomez were the featured speakers. There are 47 members in the Class of 2021.

At that commencement, in keeping with public health recommendations, spectators were encouraged to sit as a family unit and masks were encouraged.


Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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