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50 cross stage as newest HHS graduates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   

It was a day for celebration, reflection and remembrance as 50 HHS seniors walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas Sunday, May 15 at HHS.

“Today marks a milestone in the lives of these young men and women, which would not be complete if it were not for the parents, family and friends here with them today joining in this celebration,” Superintendent Bret Miles said as he welcomed everyone to Sunday’s ceremony.

Class valedictorian Mallory Bennett addressed her classmates by classifying herself as a nerd who enjoys reading. “I have discovered that each novel on the shelf has the same components as all those surrounding it—the dedication, the chapters and most importantly, the characters,” Bennett said.

HHS seniors share a laugh during Ella Stewart’s salutatory address Sunday afternoon. Pictured from
left are Christina Banaka, Skyler Dittmer, Mallory Bennett, usher Erin Lebsack and Briar Bergner.  
—Enterprise photo

“Looking at my class, we each have our own book of life, with a new page being written every day.”

The valedictorian said none of them would have made it to the stage without the guidance of others. She called this the dedication. She thanked those responsible for raising them and helping them throughout their lives.

After the dedication comes the plot which unfolds into chapters. She said each student wrote a different chapter by being involved with different things over the years.

“As we say goodbye to our lives at Holyoke High School, I want you to remember that your book of life has only just started being written,” Bennett said.

“So go out and begin writing the rest of your story. Always remember the knowledge you have gained and the obstacles you have overcome that made you you,” Bennett said.

Ella Stewart was named class salutatorian and spoke of memories and things her class has learned during their time at HHS. After reflecting on the past, Stewart turned toward the future.

“I started thinking about all the potential in this class and was absolutely overwhelmed by how far my classmates will go in the world,” Stewart said.

“The future is totally open, the opportunities are endless, and I have seen the evidence firsthand that each and every one of you possesses the tools to become whatever it is you desire.”

Valedictorian Mallory Bennett

Salutatorian Ella Stewart

Brian DeBoer and Becca Brandt were presented this year’s citizenship awards by Shirley Kadlec of American Legion Post #90 and Susan Roll Walters of the Legion Auxiliary.

Principal Susan Ortner presented the class and said, “This class has chosen a wide variety of paths for their lives. I believe that we as a staff have done everything we can to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to go out into the world, but I am struck each day by the amount of change, technology and opportunities that every student will be faced with in the future and know that now these choices are in each student’s capable hands.”

Ortner shared a short video with the class and audience. The video was a commercial for a technology company, but Ortner hoped the class was prepared to work in the world depicted in the video. Expanded and advanced technology was the focus of the video.

“Our students are prepared to live in this type of world as long as they understand that the high school diploma they receive today is only the beginning,” Ortner said.

She presented each graduate with a piece of glass as a reminder of the video. She said they could see it as a small mirror which reminded her of a poem titled “The Guy in the Glass” which she shared.

As students received their diplomas, guidance counselor Summer Maloney announced their future plans, as well as scholarships they earned. Board members Laura Krogmeier and Jon King presented diplomas.

The Class of 2011 earned $1,249,807 in scholarship money this year.

After receiving their diplomas, graduates presented those special people in their lives with roses. Hugs were given and tears were shed as classmates were congratulated by family members and friends.

More tears followed as the class remembered classmate Yesenia Coronado who died March 8 in a tragic car accident. Each graduate placed a yellow rose in a basket before heading out into the audience to watch a slide show honoring Coronado. A handful of the seniors then presented the basket to family members of Coronado.

HHS math teacher Lynette Hudiburgh holds Yesenia Coronado’s high
school diploma which was presented to Coronado’s family posthumously.
Hudiburgh spoke about Coronado at Sunday’s HHS graduation. 
—Enterprise photo

Sydney Nelson fights back the tears while placing a yellow rose in a
basket for Yesenia Coronado. Each graduating senior placed a rose in
the basket prior to watching a slide show during a special presentation
honoring their classmate.          —Enterprise photo

A selection of senior students sang Maybe Someday under the direction of Marcia Dalton. Junior and senior high bands performed Afterburn as well as the processional.

Class president Cody Fricke gave the farewell and said, “Saying goodbye is tough and everyone knows goodbyes are never fun. Well, except when you’re saying goodbye to Holyoke, Colorado,” he joked.

He went on to discuss success and what is needed for his classmates to be successful.

“I may joke that the town of Holyoke may be easy to say goodbye to, but it is not Holyoke that I am saying goodbye to. It is the relationships I have made and a community that cares that I am saying goodbye to.”

“As you leave today remember to thank those who have supported you. For even though the day is all about you, no one can deny the fact that there are people in all of our lives that we would not have gotten to this point without,” Fricke ended.

Junior class grand marshals were Austin Killin and Laura Gerk, while Emily Bradley, Erin Lebsack, Jeremy Loutensock and Alex Quintana served as ushers.


A baccalaureate was held before the graduation ceremony on Sunday with Pastor Chad Rozelle of First Baptist Church delivering the message, “What will Wikipedia say about you?”

Seniors Kaylee Groshans and Ella Stewart sang For Good. Stewart also sang Go Light Your World before a senior slide show.

Also during the baccalaureate, Rev. Max Hines of Assembly of God Church gave the welcome and Gordon Penfold, pastor of First Baptist Church, offered the benediction. Pat Wiebers was the pianist.

Click here for more on future plans for the graduates.