Aside from a piped in, rather than live, performance of "Don't Give Up On Me" by the Forest City High School Concert Choir, it was a wholly traditional commencement celebration for the Class of 2021 on May 23 in the FCHS gym.
It was a far cry from the private ceremony held last year for FCHS graduates in June following the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly every speaker this year, administration or students, cited the resiliency and perseverance of the past year that will strengthen this graduating class.
Master of Ceremonies and academic gold medal recipient Devan Alamsya thanked parents, teachers, staff, administration, and coaches for their enduring support through so many challenges, changes, and cancellations.
"I truly believe it will make us stronger going forward," said Alamsya, noting that it has been an honor and privilege to be part of the FCHS Class of 2021.
Speaker Emalee Warren, academic gold medal recipient, said she and her classmates are so blessed surrounded by members of a community that is so supportive and will continue to be. She cited mistakes made in the past as growth opportunities.
"Mistakes are mistakes, but they are also opportunities," Warren said. "Mistakes are an opportunity for learning."
She noted that COVID-19 hurdles overcome will make every graduate stronger and bring greater appreciative in their lives.
Another academic gold medal recipient Olivia Gayther addressed, at least three times, the importance of believing in yourself to her classmates and the larger community. She said taking risks is often difficult, but worth it in the end.
"Working hard is very important," Gayther said, "but something that matters more: Believe in yourself."
Gayther also said COVID-19 and quarantine time can help everyone grow into stronger individuals. She exhorted the Class of 2021 to take a "leap of faith" in all their endeavors beyond high school.
Superintendent Darwin Lehmann described the Class of 2021 with two words, grit and perseverance. After reading a short motivational quote, he wished them all the best in their future endeavors.
Academic gold medal recipient Ryan Korthals delivered a thank you address on behalf of the Class of 2021. He said almost nothing occurred as expected, but "we made it."
Korthals thanked his classmates, teachers, staff, coaches, counselors, administrators, school board members, the Forest City Education Foundation, the Forest City Sports Boosters, parents and family members, and custodial staff for keep everything clean and everyone safe amidst COVID-19.
These 2021 FCHS graduates received their caps and gowns on May 14 and had opportunities to participate in a baccalaureate service on May 16 and senior awards night on May 19. Now, they are quickly moving on to meet whatever new challenges the future brings.
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.