HHS graduates 25 on Sunday
May 17, 2023
There were several lasting thoughts delivered to Haxtun High School's Class of 2023 during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 14 but there was a common theme in each of the speeches conveyed to graduates seated in front of the packed gymnasium. That message, "Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog."
Twenty-five graduates wearing red and black gowns filed into the gym in front of family, friends and faculty on a cloudy, rainy Sunday afternoon to pomp and circumstance played by the Haxtun junior/senior high band under the direction of Mrs. Pat Wiebers. Once seated at the front, Class President Aly Lock welcomed guests to graduation.
Lock thanked school staff, coaches and mentors as well as friends and family for their part in getting graduates to this milestone. She also thanked her classmates for their 13 plus years together.
"I'm so proud of each and every one of you," she said from the podium at the top of the stage.
If there was a word to describe her class, Lock told attendees it would be different. "We are one of a kind," she said as she spotlighted each graduates future plans ranging from those who see travel in their future, to entering the work force to those who plan to attend college or trade school.
"This world needs more people who are different," Lock said. "Go see the world and always be different. And remember, Once A Bulldog, Always a Bulldog."
Following the welcome, Secondary Principal Dustin Seger announced the prestigious honors of Mr. and Miss Haxtun High School, awards given annually and decided on by the high school student body. This year's honorees were Mr. Michael Gerk and Miss Grace Gibson. Each received a plaque as a token of their lasting impact on Haxtun High School.
Seger then welcomed Gerk to the podium as the graduate with the second highest grade point average. In his Salutatorian speech, Gerk also thanked parents for their dedication to the Class of 2023.
"You have loved us, supported us, waited up for us, prayed for us and been there for us from the very beginning," he said.
Gerk paid special tribute to the mothers in the room as Sunday also marked Mother's Day. He asked all mothers, grandmothers and aunts to stand to be recognized with a special applause.
"Dads, you have also been awesome, but today's not your day, so no applause for you," he said with a chuckle.
Gerk acknowledged staff and administration for their part in helping graduates reach graduation day.
"Our class was lucky to have some awesome teachers. You have helped us grow, achieve, believe in ourselves and have prepared us for our next steps in life," he said.
He also paid special tribute to coaches and advisors for their vision and pushing each student to be the best they could be. "Now we hope to take those qualities we have learned and to apply them to our next chapter in our lives," he said.
In closing, the Salutatorian recapped some of what the Class of 2023 experienced in their years at Haxtun Schools.
"Our class has been through a lot together. Many of us have been going to school together since preschool and others came years later and fit right in and added to our goofy class," said Gerk, noting that their freshman year, the Class of 2023 went on spring break as freshmen and didn't return to school until their sophomore year.
"We experienced remote learning, masks and social distancing," he said. "In closing, I would wish my class success and good luck no matter where life leads you next. And don't forget ... Once a Bulldog, Always a Bulldog!"
Class members Julie Cardy, Cierra and Nevaeh Dick and Skyler Lundgren took the stage next for the presentation of the class gift. This year's class opted to enhance the wall of fame for future classes. Each year the wall of fame features senior banners throughout the year. Banners are later hung on main street during graduation week.
Principal Seger than announced the Class of 2023 Valedictorian, the member with the highest grade point average, Brayden Clark.
"We made it," Clark said in his opening, addressing his classmates.
As Clark reflected on the class's journey through school he took time to thank those who supported them, first thanking their teachers. He said the teachers of Haxtun High School acted as GPS devices, guiding students through school leading up to graduation day.
He also acknowledged parents. "You've been cheerleaders, chauffeurs and ATMs," he said as he encouraged them to send care packages in this next stage of life. "We still need to eat."
The Valedictorian encouraged his classmates to stay true to themselves and to follow their passion.
"We've laughed together, cried together and fell asleep in class together," he said in closing as he said goodbye to his classmates and friends.
Following the slideshow portion of the graduation ceremonies, graduates honored parents, grandparents and special guests with flowers as a token of appreciation while the song "Five More Minutes" by Scotty McCreery played over the speakers.
As Principal Seger addressed those in attendance and before presenting the Class of 2023 for graduation, he spoke of the hard work, dedication and perseverance that led graduates to this milestone. As a benchmark of that hard work, the graduation program highlighted scholarships earned by each student; as a total, the Class of 2023 earned over $310,000 in funds to further their education.
Seger offered words of encouragement and guidance to graduates as they move onto the next chapter in their journey. He told students to never forget the value of hard work, to always believe in themselves and to never stop learning. He also encouraged them to give back.
"As you achieve success in your own life, remember to help others along the way. Use your skills and abilities to make a positive impact in the world around you," he said. "Whether it's through volunteering, mentoring or simply being a kind and compassionate person, always remember that your success is not just about you, but about the impact you can have on others."
In closing, he left graduates with three things in hopes to inspire them to reach their goals. Seger told them to be inspired by their passions, to be inspired by those who came before them and to be inspired by their own potential.
"Class of 2023, let your passions, the trailblazers before you and your own potential inspire and guide you as you embark on your new journey. Congratulations again and best of luck in all your future endeavors," he said.
As each graduate crossed the stage to receive their diploma from Superintendent Marsha Cody and members of the Haxtun Board of Education, Seger read future plans and aspirations of each. When finally seated back in front of the stage, he directed each to turn their tassels and celebrate as high school graduates.
Upon exit of the gym, and for the first time as Haxtun High School alumni, class members cheered, high-fived loved ones and celebrated as each of them can take with them the title of Bulldog ... Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog.