VIDEO + GALLERY: Class of 2022 graduates from Worthington High School
Maxwell, Candelaria and Mazariegos were the student speakers and teacher Patrick Mahoney was selected to speak by the class.
WORTHINGTON — An exuberant crowd filled the Worthington High School gym Friday to see the class of 2022 receive their hard-earned diplomas, cheering for each graduate in turn despite being asked to wait until the final grad had gone through.
Instead, the crowd’s joy and pride in their students overflowed into the “hand applause only” requested by small print in the program as well as occasional triumphant shouting.
“They have gone through a great deal over the last couple years in working extremely hard through the pandemic, from distance learning to in class,” said District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard, praising the students for their dedication and commitment.
Three student speakers were chosen to address the class and the onlookers, starting with Karissa Maxwell.
Maxwell recalled learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how students were only able to see friends and family for a long time.
“But through that, all of us were able to grow as people. Now, it’s our senior year, and it feels like we all were able to rebuild connections we once had lost,” she said. “Our lives are right out the door, and we have to embrace every part of it.”
Desteny Candelaria spoke next, recalling the passage of time for her class.
“Four years ago we walked into the school as wide-eyed freshmen,” she said. “We spent the early days wondering if we'll fit in, if we’ll be the team captain of our sports team, or if we will be able to buy a nice car…”
But now, the graduates are moving ahead, going to college, getting a job or starting a family.
“I have much faith in this generation of leaders,” she added.
Alexandro Mazariegos was the third and final student to speak.
“I want to take the next couple of minutes to talk more about this scarce resource known as time. Time is a gift that we get to enjoy,” he said. “But one thing is for sure: that the time we get, that the time we have is short and will quickly pass by without even realizing it.”
Mazariegos encouraged his fellow grads to live in the moment, set goals, live life, help others, share great memories and get involved, “not tomorrow but now.”
Patrick Mahoney, who teaches social studies at the high school and was recently named Education Minnesota Worthington's Teacher of the Year, was chosen by the senior class to speak at the ceremony, and referred back to Mazariegos’ theme of time, adding his own element to it: presence.
“It isn’t time to be valued, it’s presence,” Mahoney said, quoting a friend. “Simply being around someone is not equal to being with someone.”
He recalled his days as a third-grader with ADHD, when he would fixate on the classroom clock rather than the lesson.
“And I was watching the second hand tick, and I was terrified. I kept thinking to myself, I’m never going to get that second back. And I’m never gonna get that second back,” he said.
He encouraged the students to be present, and told them not to choose between the journey and the destination but to enjoy both.
“Today is forever. Tomorrow is never. It’s been an honor to have been a small part of your journey, a blessing to be present in this moment with you,” he said. “And I look forward to seeing you in all of your future todays.”
The Trojan band and choir seniors performed during the ceremony, and homeroom advisers announced the names of the graduates as they crossed the stage to take their diploma, a flower and the congratulations of a member of the District 518 Board of Education. Landgaard moved each student’s tassel to the other side of their cap.
At the end of the ceremony, Principal Josh Noble presented the class of 2022 to the crowd, and the students let loose a glittery snowstorm of confetti as the crowd cheered.