OSCODA – The Oscoda High School (OHS) Class of 2020 officially graduated on Sunday, June 28, on the Robert D. Hodges football field surrounded by friends, family and administration.
The original graduation ceremony was set to take place on Sunday, May 31, but due to the Coronavirus, had to be cancelled to adhere to Governor’s Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order along with other executive orders. After months of planning and preparation to make the traditional ceremony possible, the day finally arrived.
Parents gathered (six feet apart from one another) in the bleachers while other family members and friends gathered outside the track field fence. School administration, board members, teachers and other faculty led the ceremony by marching to their seats at the playing of ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’
The Class of 2020 followed with seats positioned in ward towards the podium. Band members of the senior class quickly retreated from their seats to perform the national anthem, directed by Karen Lopez.
Superintendent Dr. Scott Moore was first to address the class saying that the Class of 2020 is the last class that he served as their principal when they were in third grade.
“The last message I want to leave you with is what sits on the front of our building and that’s our pillars. Be positive. When you’re positive people are going to respond. Be hard working. Things don’t get done unless you push yourself and you’ll never know how great you can be until you give it all you got. Take yourself. Make sure that you invest in yourself by developing your skills so you can help those around you,” said Moore. “Life is not easy. It takes resilience and dedication and commitment. It’s important to be resilient and probably the one that embraces all is compassion. There is not one of us who is perfect. There is not one of us who does not make mistakes. It’s important to forgive your friends and your enemies and try to have as many friends as you can.”
Co-Valedictorian Hannah Kovachevich followed Moore’s words by addressing her class saying that she attended her first graduation in eighth grade for her cousin, and when she saw the valedictorian walk up to the podium, she knew in that moment that’s what she wanted to do.
“As I stand for you today I am proud to give a final farewell to the Class of 2020 and to reflect on our years together. Now to start, I just want to say congratulations to my class. Most of us have had the chance to grow up together and have watched each other become the individuals we are today. We have dreamed of this very moment our entire lives and now its finally here even if we didn’t expect it to happen like this,” said Kovachevich.
Kovachevich reminisced on her memories made in the classroom, acknowledged the multitude of sports achievements the class has achieved and thanked all those who have helped her and her class along their journey.
“I wish you all the best of luck in life and remember to never settle for less than you deserve. Class of 2020, we did it,” said Kovachevich.
Kovachevich was followed by a speech from the Class of 2020 Salutatorian Gabe Kellstrom. Kellstrom thanked the committee who made graduation possible and the administration for providing students with every single thing they need during this time of COVID-19. He also reminisced on the life-changing experiences and opportunities that high school brought him.
“Who knew four years would come and go so quickly? Four years of successes and failures. Four years of lessons and growth. Four years of unforgettable memories and life changing experiences. From champion sports teams to state qualifying musicians we’ve got it all,” said Kellstrom. “For being the smallest class to come through OHS in awhile we sure haven’t lacked in success what is just as impressive is what we’ve accomplished is the amount of community support we’ve received, so thank you to all those who are here today supporting their seniors and all those who have supported us in the past. Without you guys none of us could have made it to where we are today.”
Following Kellstrom’s speech of gratitude, he introduced the commencement speaker and his dad, Board of Education Treasurer Tim Kellstrom.
“Good afternoon. Wow, commencement speaker for the Class of 2020. What an honor, I think. Big foot wasn’t available? When I heard you had chosen me as your commencement speaker there was a high likelihood that the ceremony would be virtual. I thought, ‘Great, if I mess it up I’ll just tape it again’ and here we are in person,” said Tim. “To quote one of the wiser men of my generation, Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. We as a society have definitely been punched in the face and so have you as the senior class.
Tim went on to say that as months unfolded and plans changed, he was impressed with how the senior class handled it.
“Don’t focus on what you lost or missed. Focus on what you have experienced during your time at OHS,” said Tim.
He highlighted positives he noticed in light of the pandemic. Those being that the senior class had a three month long skip day, they were able to watch their teachers struggle to unmute themselves on Zoom, they were reminded of the great community they live in and their faces were plastered all through downtown for months on yard signs and banners. He left the graduates with the following quote.
“I will end with this, my grandfather once told me ‘Never miss an opportunity to tell somebody you appreciate them’ on behalf of the school board administration, teachers, support staff and the community of Oscoda, thank you for all you have done to make Oscoda Area Schools and our local community a better place because of you it is a great day to be an owl,” said Tim.
OHS Principal Terry Allison followed naming students and the scholarships and awards they received. Co-Valedictorian Lauren Langley took to the mic to address her class shortly after. She spoke about how OAS has always been a tradition in her family and how her family members succeeded in athletics.
“My grandpa’s picture hangs in the spirit hall for being a state champion hurdler. My great uncle’s picture hangs in the OHS Hall of Fame for his own success as a football player and coach and now I am honored and humbled that my own picture gets to hang in the spirit hall as well,” said Langley.
She went on to say how much hard work and dedication it took to get to where she is today. She thanked countless people for their support and said that she plans to take the values and lessons she has learned at OHS throughout her life with her.
After the second valedictorian address, diplomas were presented by Board of Education President Tony Johnson. A final address to the class came from Co-Valedictorian Sydney Lopez who left her classmates with this.
“We don’t get the luxury of knowing how our lives will end up. Instead, we have the thrill of uncertainty. We have the opportunity to be who or what we want. We have the right to change the way we act and the freedom to be ourselves, so learn about you. Find your passion,” said Lopez. “Discover what makes you tick then embrace it. Go forth and be yourself because the closest you will ever get to knowing what the future holds is knowing the person you are when it gets here.”