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Osage Class of 2022 prepares to say goodbye

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As lilacs finally begin to bloom, the cold weather having wiped away a handful of track meets, the seniors of Osage Community High School mull over the next step in their lives.

The Class of 2022’s sophomore year was cut short by a worldwide pandemic. Last May, they watched the departing seniors graduate before a crowd of masked parents. Just as a sense of normalcy returns, they must once again adjust to a new normal, to what adults call the real world.

Their last day of school was May 10. Senior breakfast is Wednesday, May 11, and Scholarship Awards Night is that evening, 7:30 p.m. in the high school gym. Graduation is Sunday, May 15, at 2:30 p.m. It is open to the public, no masks required.

“It’s back to the old normal,” said Osage Superintendent Barb Schwamman.

May is a bittersweet month for administration, instructors and students. Yet in the fall, the teachers get another class of seniors to prepare for life. They are gatekeepers who remain at their posts. For students, this is an experience that will never come again. It can be even more difficult for parents.

“You get to see the students grow,” Schwamman said of her seven years as Osage superintendent. “The longer you’re in a place, the deeper your roots.”

Still, while the day of graduation may arrive too soon, for at least 13 years the teachers and administration of Osage have prepared these seniors for this Sunday afternoon and everything that comes after switching their tassels.

Schwamman describes the Class of 2022 as competitive and driven. “They’ve continued that tradition of excellence,” she said. “They’re a special group. They learned along with us."

They were part of championship teams in volleyball and wrestling, they shot trap and played esports, they excelled in the classroom and on the court, in fine arts, band and musicals. The school grew around them as the building was remodeled.

Some will enter the workforce. Others will travel to college and perhaps return to Mitchell County.

It is a surreal moment. Their scholastic careers went too fast, yet looking back from their last day to kindergarten seems like an eternity. Despite this, no matter how ready they are to leave their lockers and textbooks and childhood friends behind as memories, they hesitate at the door. But the door is open.

“I’m looking forward to moving on,” said 2021 graduate Grace Mallory last May, one of those brave enough to walk across the stage to shake hands and receive her diploma from Osage School Board President Rick Sletten. “The ceremony is one last goodbye, but I’m not saying goodbye forever.”

“It doesn’t matter if they’re going into the world of work, a two-year college, a four-year college,” Schwamman said. “We believe they’re well prepared for the next step.”

Osage Graduation 2021 flower line

The Osage High School Class of 2021 gets in line to graduate.

Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 515-971-6217, or by email at jason.selby@globegazette.com.

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