Three-hundred-thirty-three young adults from Fridley, Spring Lake Park and Blaine, along with their parents, loved ones and friends awoke Friday morning with one thing on their mind—the weather. What was the forecast and where would graduation be that evening? Would it be outside on the football field or inside in the gym?
While a few showers were forecast for the day, the weather held out and the bleachers at Panther Field were packed for a night filled with tradition, as Spring Lake Park’s senior class of 2012 received their diplomas.
The school board and administration led the march onto the field accompanied by the Spring Lake Park band, led by directors Brian Lukkasson and Nora Tycast playing Pomp and Circumstance and the National Anthem as the Minnesota National Guard presented the colors.
Principal Jane Stevenson welcomed those attending. Student speaker Henry Donato stole the show with his likening of the students’ robes to “giant blue Snuggies," taking a picture of himself on stage in front of the students with his iPhone, and ending his speech with a quote from the Black-Eyed Peas: “Tonight’s going to be a good, good night.”
Sana Siddiqui, the other student speaker, was a bit more reserved in her presentation to the class, with quotations from Mother Theresa—“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."—and from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
David Walker, student speaker from the Learning Alternatives program, spoke of giving back what you have been given.
Julia Corneil-Smith, counselor to the seniors for the four years they had been at SLP High School, quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson to remind the students that “life is a journey, not a destination,” and not to measure life by breaths taken, but by moments that take your breath away.
District 16 Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg, before presenting the class of 2012, spoke of the Beloit College Mindset List and of the milestones in their lives—including 9/11, the election of Barack Obama as the first black President, the iPhone, GPS, and Angry Birds—and spoke of change and the ability to adjust and adapt.
After the students received their diplomas, the mortarboards flew into the air as the students were presented as 2012 graduates of Spring Lake Park High School.
Of the 333 students who graduated that evening, 133 did so with honors, and 36 students were honored as Highest Honors Graduate with Academic Distinction (graduating with a 3.7 or higher GPA and completing 32 credits of “high rigor” coursework).