If there’s one thing the Le Sueur-Henderson class of 2020 can pride themselves in, it’s that few classes have faced challenges like this year’s seniors. Those challenges were front and center at the school’s drive-in graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 24, but students, parents and faculty joined together to create an experience as close to normalcy as possible.
‘Overcoming’ was the theme of the day as volunteers adorned in Le Sueur-Henderson branded face masks and yellow vests led incoming families into their parking spaces for a graduation unlike any other. Cars, trucks and pickups drove in plastered with balloons, graffiti and signs celebrating their seniors. While this year’s graduates remained physically apart, they visited with each other from their rolled-down windows and through celebratory honks.
The ceremony began with Principal Brian Thorstad and School Board Chair Brigid Tuck welcoming parents and seniors to Le Sueur-Henderson’s 2020 ceremony. They were followed by Senior Class Officer Seth Hardel, who gave a welcoming address reminding the class that they had overcome much more than the coronavirus in their journey — from acne to the early days of high school. Hardel emphasized that even as the graduates dispersed throughout the world, they would always share a common bond as graduating seniors.
Senior Lauren Gregersen took to the podium to introduce the ceremony’s main speaker: Activities Director Jeff Christ. Christ started off recognizing the lives lost to COVID-19 as well as those suffering from losing their jobs, opportunities and people who have been strained by the pandemic. He also acknowledged the difficulties the senior class had with transitioning to distance learning and losing out on important moments like athletics, activities and prom. Despite these setbacks, Christ emphasized that this year’s class would be going out into the world having already faced unique problems that no other class had faced.
Senior Keely Olness followed with a reading of the poem “Believing in You” by Catherine Pulsifier, which commemorates the importance of finding one’s own path. Christ and FACS teacher Courtney Shoemaker then read the names of each individual graduate. After all graduates were recognized, the class officers led the students in turning the tassel. Senior officer Gail Warner ended the ceremony with a farewell address reminding the class of all the memories they shared at Le Sueur-Henderson over the years.
After the ceremony, the graduates lined up inside their vehicles for a graduation parade. With the help of the local police, fire and emergency services, the parade of students traveled from Le Sueur to Bender Park in Henderson while members of the community stood by the road to congratulate the class of 2020.