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Graduates toss their caps into the air at the conclusion of the 126th commencement ceremony Friday night at Worthington High School.
Graduates toss their caps into the air at the conclusion of the 126th commencement ceremony Friday night at Worthington High School.

Worthington High School seniors take the next step

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news Worthington, 56187

Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- A total of 174 smiling seniors received their diplomas Friday night at Worthington High School's 126th annual commencement ceremony.

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Sporting traditional black gowns and silver stoles -- accentuated in many cases with gold or white honor cords -- the students marched into place in an orderly manner for their final act as high school students.

"This is a very intelligent group that is willing to explore in many areas," WHS Principal Paul Karelis said before the ceremony. "I really feel that they are ready to go on with the next step in their lives."

As he introduced the school board members and addressed the class of 2013, Karelis added, "I want to remind you that memories are forever -- that learning never ends."

The day began for the seniors with an early breakfast at Chautauqua Park -- an event their chosen speaker, Mrs. Bonita Bents, WHS Family and Consumer Science teacher, said in her remarks to the class.

"I know many of you had a good breakfast this morning," Bents said, laughing.

She then encouraged the students to remember the things she has taught them: the importance of good nutrition, early childhood education and quality parenting. Her speech -- filled with cooking puns and advice to "build their recipe for success" -- ended with a quote by author Richard Bach: "Cherish yesterday, live for today and dream of tomorrow."

Bents encouraged the students to "savor the moment," taking out a camera and photographing the entire class as she spoke.

"I am so honored to be here with you tonight," she told them.

This theme was repeated by many who worked with the class throughout the year.

"It has been a privilege to be a part of one of the most important events in their lives," said Perla Banegas, Senior Class Advisor.

"We're extremely proud of all your accomplishments," District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said. "We wish you the best as you leave our halls. Please don't forget to come back and visit."

Lori Dudley, clerk of the District 518 Board of Education, said before the ceremony, "This night is always one of the most enjoyable things I get to do on the school board. We are so very proud of them as they walk across the stage."

"It's a wonderful day," Landgaard added. "We have 30 more graduates than last year, and the Area Learning Center had 16 graduates last night -- doubling last year's graduates. We're very pleased with those numbers."

Another thing the administration was pleased with was the brand-new marquee, which not only broadcast the event on-screen but also scrolled through photos of each senior along with information on their post-graduation plans.

Looking ahead to those upcoming events -- but also looking back at the past 12 years -- was a theme in the three student speeches of the evening. Zachary Brandt, Jennifer Mayorga and Gordon Moore were all chosen by their peers to speak at the ceremony.

Brandt emphasized that one of the most valued lessons he gained as a student in WHS is to embrace the diversity of its setting.

"We don't see each other for what ethnicity we are, because although it's who we are, it is not ... who we are. We are what we do."

Mayorga's speech looked at all of life as a learning adventure.

"Your days of learning are just beginning," she said. "Life is a string of lessons of which you must make meaning. You decide what you are going to do with the lessons that life has taught you."

Moore, Senior Class President, received a standing ovation from his peers for his speech.

"What lies ahead of us is just as important as what lies in the past," Moore said.

Full of humor and references to events in their collective past, Moore's remarks were aimed at his classmates.

"We're not completely video game-playing, lazy slugs like some might think," Moore insisted. "Your possibilities stretch before you like Nobles County cornfields on a July day."

Moore ended his speech with an original rap that got the entire audience smiling.

"We'll keep our memories forever, triumphs and failures all wrapped together / But for now our whole lives lie ahead, and we really have nothing at all to dread..."

The senior class motto seemed a fitting thought to take away from the ceremony: "People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." (Apple Computers)

"I think this class will be making some changes (in the world)," Bents said in her final remarks.

As the seniors walked across the stage and received their diplomas, Landgaard flipped their tassels to the right side of their mortar boards. Various teachers handed them white or red gladiolas, the class flower. The class colors were black, red and silver.

The Trojan Band (sans its senior members), directed by Jon Loy, played "All Glory, Laud & Honor" as well as "Pomp & Circumstance," "Fanfare & Flourishes" and the recessional. The Concert Choir Seniors, directed by Kerry Johnson, sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" as well as the National Anthem.

Senior class officers were Moore; Cheniqua Johnson, Vice President; Thomas Burns, Treasurer; and Ana Lozano, Secretary.

Senior Students of Excellence were Turner Hagen, Agriculture; Elizabeth Luke, Art; McKenzie Hurley, Business; Zachary Brandt, Communication Arts; Maggie Malathip, Family & Consumer Science; Jacob Woll, Industrial Technology; Alexander Hayenga, Mathematics; Krista Vogt, Music; Yadira Barragan, Physical Education &Health; KC Riley, Science; Gordon Moore, Social Studies; and Hannah Naab, World Languages.

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