HARVARD – It’s a scene that those who know remember fondly, and those who have yet to experience look forward to.
Close family and friends crowd into a stuffy gym. Some have flowers, others hold on to balloons that read words of congratulation like “hats off to the grad” and “best grad ever.” The flapping of programs can be heard with the wise words of Albert Einstein displayed on the cover: “Learn from yesterday, love for today, hope for tomorrow.”
Older brothers and sisters come home to send their younger siblings off into the world that they are no longer stranger to, reminiscing with former classmates and comparing their new and exciting post-high school lives. It happened last year, it will happen next year, but for the 2014 graduates of Harvard High School, it’s their one and only.
One hundred sixty-three seniors took their last march through the halls of Harvard High School on Tuesday evening and emerged alumni.
“This group of students is very interesting in that they’re much like a large group of brothers and sisters,” Principal Rob Zielinski said. “They truly rely and depend on each other.”
Zielinski said the 2014 class overcame a lot as a group and is looking for what fits them as individuals as they move on to life after high school, not what fits the mold. They’re following their own paths and not doing it for anyone else but themselves.
The evening included performances by the Harvard High School Advanced Choir and Concert Band and a commencement address co-led by faculty members Caren MacKenzie and Tim Haak.
“There weren’t any individual superstars in this class,” Zielinski said. “Everyone picked up a piece of their class’s success and did their part.”
Salutatorian Tate Miller did his part by finishing second in his class, presenting a light speech filled with a little humor, some shout outs and some advice. First and foremost, he thanked all those in attendance.
“You’ve made us who we are, and who we are not,” Miller said.
Miller made mention of classmates off to study in Hawaii and North Dakota, as well as boasted of their football team’s undefeated season, commending all of the seniors on their hard work throughout the year.
“Our class didn’t let the countless hours of school take away from the party of life,” Miller said. “We’re not put here on this earth for a long time; we’re put here to have a good time.”
Miller was followed by class valedictorian Samantha Genz, who compared the classmates she saw before her as the same unsure yet excited group she stood with in that very gym four years earlier at their eighth-grade graduation.
“Live a life that makes your town proud,” Genz said. “Do something for some time, for someone other than yourself.”
Zielinski said they have an unusually large number of students joining the military post-graduation as well as college-bound students attending universities across the United States.
Zielinski said his advice may be that which has been heard before, but still holds true.
“Follow your dreams. Be a part of it all, and make an impact.”