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The Cook County class of 2018 graduates

Jun 08, 2018 04:29PM ● By Editor
With choir director Erika Ternes playing piano the Cook County High School choir blessed the crowd gathered for the 2018 senior graduation ceremonies with a song. The lone senior in the choir was Veronica Lopez. Lopez is wearing her cap and gown. Staff photo/Brian Larsen

By Brian Larsen rom the Cook County News Herald - June 8, 2018

From the processional to the recessional the 2018 Cook County High School graduation held Saturday, June 2 in the gymnasium was a splendid success as 50 seniors received their diplomas and joined the ranks of the CCHS alumni.

Principal Bill DeWitt and superintendent Dr. William Crandall welcomed the students. Dr. Crandall said many things, but two stuck out. He told the kids to “know yourself ” and to learn to “budget,” as they go forth into the world.

Knowing yourself is all-important, but so is budgeting. Budgeting, of course, is important financially and in learning to manage one’s time. 

Mr. Patrick Pierre and Mr. Elliot Cloud came forward and sang the Anishinabe Honor Song.

Kris Hoffman put a tassel around Wyatt Bakerrsquos neck as Lake Superior College representative Jim Schwarzbauer announces to the crowd that Wyatt had earned a 30-credit welderrsquos certificate from Lake Superior College Staff photoBrian Larsen

Kris Hoffman put a tassel around Wyatt Baker’s neck as Lake Superior College representative Jim Schwarzbauer announces to the crowd that Wyatt had earned a 30-credit welder’s certificate from Lake Superior College. Staff photo/Brian Larsen 

Next, Vice Principal Mitch Dorr gave a speech called “Life Lessons.” In essence, he told the class, give to your community, think of others, do small favors, open doors for someone in a store, pick up trash on the floor to help a janitor. Be kind. Help out when and where you can. Make the world a better place and your life will be better for it. Simple, but often forgotten lessons we should all follow.

The high school band performed “Music from Pirates of the Caribbean,” and then Salutatorian Linnea Henrikson and Valedictorian Maya McHugh gave speeches, both thanking classmates, friends, and families for a fantastic journey through their school years. McHugh used two cue cards in her speech. One said Laugh. One said Cry. She held them up at appropriate times.

Salutatorian Linnea Henrikson L and Valedictorian Maya McHugh walk together after receiving their diplomas

Salutatorian Linnea Henrikson (L) and Valedictorian Maya McHugh walk together after receiving their diplomas. 

Veronica Lopez, accompanied by Erika Ternes on the piano, sang “Humble and Kind,” a song written by Tim McGraw and an excellent description of the next speaker, Kris Hoffman.

Outgoing school counselor Kris Hoffman is leaving to work in another school district. He told the kids he took his S.A.T. test on his 18th birthday, attended college, graduated, went into the military and somehow four years ago ended up in Cook County. “I never had a plan,” he said, admitting it was fortuitous to end up with the life he has now, but he strongly advised the kids to a make a plan and stick with it. 

The high school choir sang “Things That Never Die,” which was composed by Lee Denger with lyrics by Charles Dickens.

Jim Schwarzbauer, from Lake Superior College, came to the podium and called on Wyatt Baker to come forward to receive a 30–credit welder’s certificate. Schwarzbauer noted the great effort Wyatt made to achieve these credits in addition to performing all of the work he needed to graduate high school. Baker spent at least eight Saturdays driving to Duluth to take classes/tests at Lake Superior College.

Senior Raina Ryden presented the annual slide show of the kids progressing from babies to seniors, once again it was a highlight for many in the audience.

Following the slideshow, the diplomas were awarded by Dr. Crandall, Mitch Dorr, school board chair Sissy Lunde, Anishinabe advisor Lena Santos, faculty member, reader Michael McHugh, Kris Hoffman, and David Liechty, a teacher representing the faculty. Former high school principal Adam Nelson was also in attendance and handed out a diploma to one student, Brad Wilson. Nelson left in the middle of the year to become superintendent of Wrenshall High School. It was nice to see him come back and honor Brad who fought hard to graduate.

There was one standing ovation during the ceremony. That occurred when Mitch Dorr read the names of the various people who were retiring at the end of this year. When Pam Taylor’s name was read, everyone rose to thank her for 35 years of teaching and coaching. Mr. Dorr also announced that the high school gym was now renamed after coach Taylor. Renaming the gym in Pam’s honor was something former and current teachers, staff, and former student-athletes coached by Pam had spent the past nine months lobbying for. It was a beautiful tribute to a great afternoon.

As the kids walked out of the gym, one journey was ending while another, much more significant, was only beginning. All the best to the class of 2018, and don’t ever forget your class motto, “In a world where you can be anything…be yourself.”

Make that “the best of yourself,” and you will do great. 

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