In a gym almost back to full capacity, the smiles of family members and graduates became a highlight of the evening at the Wadena-Deer Creek graduation ceremony on May 28.

The class of 2021 students shared their memories of growth with four student speakers: Tony Kreklau, Nevada Schulz, Sara Goetze and Emma Mehl. The short ceremony also included two musical performances of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Teagan Roberts and “I’ll Always Remember You” by Emma Bushinger.

Family members snap photos as the Wadena-Deer Creek graduating class of 2021 enters.
Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal
Family members snap photos as the Wadena-Deer Creek graduating class of 2021 enters. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

The in-person ceremony brought back the feeling of a graduation with the student processional to the fanfare of “Pomp and Circumstance” while students and attendees did not have to wear masks. Kreklau welcomed seniors to their 104 days of summer before adulthood kicks in⁠—but most importantly welcomed their in-person time together rather than Zoom meetings.

As the opening speaker, senior Tony Kreklau welcomed seniors to the in-person ceremony and the beginning of summer before adulthood.
Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal
As the opening speaker, senior Tony Kreklau welcomed seniors to the in-person ceremony and the beginning of summer before adulthood. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

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While seniors thanked parents, guardians, teachers, custodians and cooks for their dedication to the students’ school careers, activities director and dean of students Norm Gallant also thanked seniors for the lessons and memories they shared with the school community.

“I can honestly say in my time I’m not sure we’ve ever graduated a group that is more ready for life after high school,” Gallant said. Through a year and a half of hybrid, distance and in-person learning and quarantines due to the pandemic, Gallant said seniors showed poise, grace and resilience.

In her rendition of past memories, Schulz shared how the class of 2021 has always included “utter craziness.” Each school year had “drastic changes and missed events,” like field trips conveniently added after they completed sixth grade. The experiences were a part of seniors growing up alongside each other, as Goetze shared.

In her speech, WDC senior Sara Goetze shared one last cat fact: both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain for emotions.
Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal
In her speech, WDC senior Sara Goetze shared one last cat fact: both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain for emotions. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

Mehl said the seniors went from a nightmare for teachers to becoming an example for other students—though that doesn’t mean a fair number of teachers retired after having them as students, she joked.

As students headed into their future, Mehl encouraged her fellow classmates to find their passions, put others first, forgive others and ask for help.

“Now you guys have the power and responsibility of deciding your future,” Mehl said.