The message at the Perham Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremony was that even though life is hard, it is what we make of it.
One-hundred and twenty-three made up the graduating class, and 137 cars attended the unusual drive-in graduation ceremony on Friday, May 22, to honor them.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Perham High School was forced to have a socially distanced graduation, with students and families staying in their cars in the school parking lot, listening to speakers on their car radios.
After the parking lot ceremony ended, the new graduates were led by the Perham Fire Department in a parade through town.
Graduating seniors Rowdie Lindquist, who will be going to Alexandria Community College for Marine and Power Sports, and Kaylie Kirchenwitz, who will be going to North Dakota State University for nursing, spoke to the Focus by phone about Friday’s graduation ceremony.
While Lindquist is not thrilled about how his senior year had to end, or about having a drive-in graduation, students need to back on the school on their decision.
“We have to buckle down and get it done,” he said.
The experience has been a little overwhelming, Kirchenwitz said. She said while she is happy to be graduating it feels like it's already been summer for months and that the class is missing out on a normal goodbye. While she would have liked to be able to walk for graduation, the drive-in graduation is better than not having a ceremony at all, she said.
Vehicles of graduates and their families packed the front of the parking lot at the ceremony. Although everyone was physically distanced from one another the graduates still came together one last time to celebrate their graduation, as graduates waved and called out to each other from between cars. In place of clapping, those in attendance honked their horns as the student, faculty, and guest speakers delivered their messages to the class.
Madelyn Tangen, Katie Zepper, Caden Bormann and Maddux Kovash were the student speakers for this year’s graduation ceremony. Each gave reminders to their classmates that while their senior year did not end how they had hoped that, they still had many memories together.
Superintendent Mitch Anderson, Perham High School Principal Ehren Zimmerman, Perham High School Physical Education Teacher Ryan Beachy, and WCCO’s Cory Hepola also spoke at the ceremony. Those speakers assured students that, while life is unfair and has been unfair to them in their final days of high school, it is what they choose to make of it.
As the graduating class was sent out into the world, Anderson reminded them that "once a Yellowjacket, always a Yellowjacket."
The 2020 graduation ceremony came to an end as local law enforcement and the Perham mascot led the graduating class in a parade of their decorated cars through Perham.