Entering life’s next chapter

MARSHALL – We’ve often heard it before. But, said graduating Marshall High School senior Abby Surprenant, there is some truth to the saying, “When one door closes, another opens.”

“Tonight is an ending. As we walk across the stage tonight, we are ending a chapter in our lives,” Surprenant told classmates gathered at commencement for the MHS Class of 2013. The next chapter is ready to begin.

“My challenge to you, is to do what’s right for you,” Surprenant said. “Decide how you’re going to end this chapter.”

More than 180 MHS graduates received their diplomas Friday evening. Claire Buysse was named the class valedictorian. The five students who spoke during commencement exercises reflected on the mix of thoughts and emotions the occasion brought with it. Different speakers talked about the class’ past, present and future.

While Surprenant said she was feeling nostalgic about her time at MHS, other seniors, like speaker McKenzie Vermeire, counted the days until graduation.

“Do you know many days there are from New Year’s until today?” Vermeire asked in her speech. The answer was 138, she said. “I thought this day would never come.”

Vermeire said the experience of waiting to graduate reminded her of her experiences all through school. Twelve years might seem like forever, but they actually go by fast.

“Everything we experienced has shaped us for the future,” Vermeire said. “Marshall High School has given us a solid foundation to work upon.”

Bo Erickson said graduates also had many people who have guided and shaped their lives.

“Some of the people cheering now, were the same people who cheered for us when we took our first steps,” he said.

Erickson said his grandmother was one of the people who helped make him the person he is today. She taught him to be proud of what you stand for and to take pleasure in the little things, he said.

“I’m starting to realize how many people have helped me along the way,” Erickson said. He encouraged everyone to thank those people in their own lives.

Austin Saugstad said the meaning of graduation has changed for him in the years since he played in the school band during commencement. Back then, he said, his main question was where to go eat after the ceremony was over.

“Now, the questions are a lot more difficult, and they affect the rest of our lives,” Saugstad said.

Graduates had plenty to be proud of during their time in school, Saugstad said. This year, MHS students performed well in a wide range of activities and athletic events, from basketball to FFA. This year, Marshall had its first-ever state hockey tournament team, he said.

“It had never been done, until we did it,” Saugstad said.

Saugstad said it was important to hold on to those memories, because they will help shape the people the class of 2013 will become.

“Remember, the memories we shared in high school will live on forever,” Saugstad said.

The symbols the Class of 2013 chose to represent them also have a deeper meaning, said speaker Melissa Stassen. For example, seniors picked the tiger lily as their class flower and orange and black as their colors.

“I think that says something about us,” Stassen said. The Class of 2013 takes pride in their school, she said. “We take pride in our participation.”

Stassen said the class’ choice of a motto – “Be the change you want to see in the world” – spoke to the seniors’ drive to make a difference in the future.

“I know we have a class that can truly set the world on fire,” Stassen said.