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PHOTOS: Columbia Heights High School Grads Receive Diplomas

Medtronic's Bakken was honored alumnus; Student speakers cited Dr. Seuss and Spiderman's uncle.

The weather—always a concern with outdoor graduations—held out as 171 students received diplomas at Columbia Heights High School's Hylander Field Thursday evening.

Parents, friends and family members cheered and clapped as Principal Joann Karetov welcomed them to the ceremony—and they didn't stop until the new graduates threw their mortarboards in the air at the end.

There were 171 graduates—59 graduating with honors (23 of those honors with distinction), 18 from the AVID program, and 34 from the College Possible Program.

Music throughout the night was provided by the school band, directed by Nicole Rubis-Aakre, and the school choir, led by Emily Ohman.

Columbia Heights VFW Post 230 provided the color guard for the presentation of the colors.

Speakers included Karetov, whose advice to "dream, stay persistent and create" preceded the presentation of the fifth annual "Alumni of Distinction" award to Earl Bakken, 1942 CHHS graduate who founded in his garage in 1959.

Math teacher Ole Rapson spoke of the AVID program she advises and what it has meant to the 18 graduates who had been with the program from the start at the beginning of their freshman yearr. She offered this advice to the graduates (given to her by her father): "Drink water, bend your knees and take a nap."

Student speakers were Robert Harper and Gabriel Hewitt. Harper thrilled the crowd by going into a chorus of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" and left with a quote from Dr. Seuss's Oh! The Places You'll Go!:

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go."

Hewitt spoke of heroes and quoted either Voltaire or Peter Parker's Uncle Ben (from Spiderman): "With great power comes great responsibility."

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