It was a first of its kind last Friday night, as 367 seniors of Oakdale High School’s Class of 2021 took their seats on the field of The Corral for their graduation ceremony. As the graduates entered the stadium a limited number of family and friends cheered for their respective senior.
Due to Health Department Guidelines for gatherings, each graduate was allotted two tickets.
ASB President Jude Krick led the ceremony with a well prepared speech. The ticket limit however, did not detour friends and family from lining up along the chain link fences, while others tailgated in the parking lot awaiting their respective graduate.
“None of us are special,” Krick said to his peers. “Now, don’t take that too harshly, I’ll explain what I mean in a second.”
The ASB President went on to note the year they had had, as well as its challenges, stating, “Isn’t that just the way life goes?”
As part of his speech, Krick shared the story of his late grandmother, detailing all the major life events she lived through.
“I’m telling you this because I think that last year has been a good wake up call,” he said. “There’s going to be hardships we’re going to deal with our entire lives and COVID is just going to be one of many. So don’t let it get you down, don’t dwell in this past year because … who cares.”
Krick went on to tell the class to “get over themselves.” He also added that he felt the year had taught them that they are both strong and capable.
“Every one of us should be proud and honored to be sitting here tonight,” Krick concluded.
Salutatorian James Homer also shared some sentiments of the Class of 2021’s past 14 months, noting lessons learned, as well as quotes from fellow classmates.
“Happy unreal graduation,” the Salutatorian said to the Mustangs, “because this rite of passage came far too soon; we may feel ill prepared for what is to come. The reality of it is, no one has ever been entirely prepared for the next step in their life. They just wing it.”
The day prior, it was the graduation ceremony for Oakdale Junior High School eighth graders, the young Rams having a turn in the spotlight.
With windy conditions prompting many graduates to keep one hand on their caps as the entered the stadium, many also took time to seek out family in the stands, greeting them with a wave.
Sierra Hicks and Madison Mattos performed the National Anthem and ASB Sergeant at Arms Chloe Ridenour led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
After a welcome by Principal Jon Webb, ASB President Memphis Carr provided an address to the graduating class, 329 members strong.
“This year has been a year to remember …” Carr said, “and one we never want to do again.”
Adding that their final year of junior high was “crazy to say the least,” Carr congratulated her fellow Rams on making it through.
“We persevered and moved forward,” she said. “I’m so proud of each and every one of you.”
Looking back over a seventh grade year on campus cut short by the pandemic and an eighth grade year that barely got back to a semblance of ‘normal’ before it was over, Carr said the students nevertheless learned a lot.
“We are strong, we are unique,” Carr noted. “Nothing, not even a pandemic can keep us from achieving our dreams.”
Adding to that train of thought, ASB Rally Commissioner McKenzie Regan took the podium for the Junior High Review.
“This class has set an excellent example of what it takes to persevere,” Regan said, adding that “there is not a single doubt in my mind” that the class will go on to “achieve, succeed and make an impact.”
Leader Editor Marg Jackson and Staff Reporter Teresa Hammond co-wrote this story.