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Perham, New York Mills schools celebrate graduation

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Kyle Vorderbruggen gets a congratulatory hug after New York Mills High School's 94th commencement ceremony on Friday.1 / 4
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Perham High School's Gabriel Pankonin gave the closing speech after the 2012 class "officially graduated."2 / 4
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Rachel Kraft hugs NY Mills High School English teacher Heidi Dressor. The class chose Dressor as one of their most influential teachers.3 / 4
Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Perham High School grad Candace Rastedt is all smiles as she walks off the stage after receiving her diploma Sunday.4 / 4


The 106 students in Perham High School's graduating class of 2012 took part in their commencement ceremony on May 27, sharing laughter and tears in recognition of their final days at Perham schools.

Student speakers Jordan Schroeer and Mark Schumacher entertained the crowd with a humorous rendition of memories made in Perham, including mini satires on teachers and principals, all in good fun.

In a more serious tone, student speaker Suzanne Coleman described her fellow graduates as "a class of determination."

And Gabriel Pankonin shared a 'thank you' with all the teachers, family members and others who have stood behind the class throughout their years of school.

Emily Peterson and Joseph Ahlfs sang a combination of the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful." The crowd also enjoyed musical pieces by the high school band, orchestra and choir.

Perham's class motto was, "Behind you are the shadows of what we might have been, and ahead - the image of what we hope to be."

According to a survey given prior to the ceremony, the graduate's future plans are varied: 59 percent will attend a four-year college, 29 percent will attend a two-year college, 9 percent will enter the work force, 1 percent plan to go into the military, and 2 percent are undecided.



New York Mills School held its 94th commencement ceremony on May 25, with 45 students receiving diplomas.

Student speakers Becky Wegscheid, Lacey Guck, Jenna Esala and Kristin Kane shared memories and lessons learned from their years in school.

Esala said that although her fellow students are heading in different directions now, they will always share what they learned together in NY Mills. Her list of top 10 lessons learned included number two, "Mills is small, yet we offer a lot," and number four, "It's okay to laugh."

Guck opened her kindergarten time capsule to compare her dreams and goals coming in to school to her goals today as she closes the door on her high school career. She laughed in embarrassment when she found her kindergarten goal was to be a cheerleader.

The class chose high school English teacher Heidi Dressor and elementary school fifth grade teacher Doug Salo as influential teachers who helped them along the way.

The choir sang, "Until We Meet Again" and the band played "American Barndance."

The 2012 class motto was, "Everybody loves everybody." Class colors were black, royal blue and silver. The class flower was a dahlia.