In a last gathering, the Wadena-Deer Creek class of 2020 descended into their cars, donned their face masks and followed their flight path through the Wadena Municipal Airport parking lot on May 22. The 59 seniors picked up their diplomas off a table and found their smiles as car horns blasted and friends cheered.
“Welcome aboard,” Courtny Warren said as she opened the evening with positivity and laughs, remarking on the legacy the senior class will leave throughout her speech. Margaret Carlson followed the history of their character developing turbulent years, such as learning iPads and sharing a building with the high school students after the 2010 tornado.
The incredible accomplishments of the class and the lack of needing a road to follow soared through Kamea Shreves encouragement to the senior class.
After each speaker the cleaning team of fifth- to 12th-grade choir director Mike Ortmann and district media specialist Loni Niles headed for the stage, switching out the top portion of the microphone and even wiping down the podium.
Activities director and dean of students Norm Gallant and middle/high school principal Tyler Church spoke of the ways the class of 2020 will be remembered, and though all added in personal notes the class is inescapably remembered for graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlson said the staff at WDC has always helped the class transition and move forward, a choice the class made even on their bittersweet last day of school on March 17.
The graduates each landed smoothly on the stage—even when Cody Wheeler performed a flip—with the control tower of Gallant and Church telling them to stop for a picture.
“We are extraordinary,” Kennedy Gravelle said as the last speaker of the evening after comparing the seniors’ futures to flights, with students possibly having more layovers or staying on the same flight repeatedly.
The seniors’ final take-off brought them through town and into the football field for a farewell parade.