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The class of 2022 is on their way

The ceremony was filled with emotions for the tight-knit class.

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Wadena-Deer Creek graduate Landon Colon celebrates during the parade around town with fellow graduates Zane Edwards, left, and Chloe Kopphahn, at right.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal
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WADENA — There were laughs and tears, silence and shouts of pure joy as the class of 2022 were handed diplomas, tossed their mortar boards and went off into the world as graduates on Friday, May 27.
The class of just 52 was met with a full W-DC gymnasium. All those attending heard from four pairs of students. It was a breakaway from the typical monologues as the duos took turns sharing their thoughts, memories and revelations of the class they've grown up with.
Activities Director and Dean of Students Norm Gallant shared that this class has been through a lot. They were perhaps the last class to recall the 2010 tornado shortly after they graduated kindergarten; they remember the passing of their dear third-grade classmate Jane Fiemeyer to cancer; they handled the chaos of COVID; and on their senior trip witnessed another funnel cloud.

Gallant, whose daughter Grace graduated that night, said he was pleased his daughter got to be part of such a great class.
"Continue to be good to others, work hard and find the good in everything you do and everyone you come across," Gallant said. "We are very proud of this class and can't wait to see what you accomplish."

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Mikayla Varela, left, and Grace Gallant were among the 4.0 students that had a chance to speak during the ceremony.
Michael Johnon / Pioneer Journal

First up to speak among the highest honor students were Mikayla Varela and Grace Gallant. They took a moment to speak on mental health
"We may look like we've come out picture perfect, but we all have our own issues under this facade," G. Gallant said
"Maybe you've come here to day with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or another mental or physical illness that may or may not be visible to the outside world," Varela said. "We are here to remind you that it isn't something to be hidden and shoved into the darkness, but rather it's important to be proud of the perseverance that you've been forced to gain to get here tonight."

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Jamie Barthel, left, and Madison Packer were among the 4.0 students that spoke during the graduation ceremony.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Jamie Barthel and Madison Packer shared about past memories and how their time here has prepared them for what's to come.

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Anna Church and Lauryn Gravelle were two of the six 4.0 students to speak during the graduation ceremony on Friday, May 27.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Anna Church and Lauryn Gravelle encouraged the class and audience to be more "Jane like." They recall the spunky life that she shared in her time with them.
Speakers Anna Osberg and Kendall Oen continued that sentiment when they had Jane's mom and sisters come down and be recognized. They also presented them with a quilt from the senior class covered in reminders of who Jane was and how she continues to shape the class of 2022.

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The memory of Jane was kept alive with an orange rose in a vase and picture frame in honor of her.
"Jane you are greatly missed, but you are never forgotten," high school principal Tyler Church said prior to Jane receiving an honorary diploma along with the other students receiving their diplomas.

Students left there as graduates and paraded around town to celebrate the accomplishment 13 years in the making.

He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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