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High fives and handshakes abound at WDC 2019 graduation

Students lining up to receive their diplomas. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal1 / 12
WDC graduate Cade Kapphahn grips his diploma case as he walks back to his seat. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal2 / 12
The class listens to speaker and alumni Tommy Merickel. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal3 / 12
Sophia Kreklau delivering an address during 2019 WDC graduation. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal4 / 12
Grace Hinojos getting her diploma and a hug from dad, Vince Hinojos. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal5 / 12
Kent Schmidt hands Sophia Kreklau her diploma. Dan Lawson and Vince Hinojos also handed out diplomas. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal6 / 12
57 students received diplomas. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal7 / 12
Alec Larson delivered a somewhat satirical address to his fellow classmates and attendees. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal8 / 12
For some, a glorious end to a long education journey, to others, a tearful departure from friends and mentors. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal9 / 12
The graduates in attendance. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal10 / 12
Graduates entered the gym in pairs. they met near the center and shared a salutation before being seated. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal11 / 12
Graduates waiting for their walk. Michael Denny/Wadena Pioneer Journal12 / 12

57 students received diplomas and said their final goodbyes to fellow classmates, teachers, and faculty at the Wadena-Deer Creek High School Friday night. The evening was filled with hugs, high fives, and a little air horn.

After a short introduction, the graduates made their way into the gymnasium. Graduates entered in twos, meeting near the center of the gym to exchange a handshake or butt bump before being seated. The small group was engulfed by the hundreds of family and friends packing the bleachers.

The alumni address was conducted by Tommy Merickel, a 1974 WDC graduate and executive vice-president for the Taylor Corporation. The Taylor Corporation specializes in print and communications. Merickel shared intimate details of his life from graduation to his very successful career in business. During his address he described certain achievements, from being able to travel all over the country, to flying in a company jet, a milestone he was particularly proud of. Not everything was fun, he explained. Merickel had his struggles as well. Merickel openly discussed his bouts with alcoholism and coping with anger, hardships that shaped him as a person.

The ceremony had several student speakers with Sophia Kreklau providing the opening welcome. Alec Larson and Ashley Adams also addressed the audience, with Elissa Ikola issuing closing remarks. Speeches were rife with kind words, humorous anecdotes, and a general feeling of accomplishment.