The eight members of the Medora High School Class of 2020 have received their diplomas.
It, however, wasn’t a typical graduation.
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Due to increased safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the school resorted to a virtual ceremony Friday featuring speeches from Salutatorian Jack Combs and Valedictorian Kelsey Turner.
Combs began his address by giving thanks to those watching, the school’s staff and the families of the graduates.
“I’d like to thank all of you for tuning into this virtual graduation,” he said. “I’d also like to thank the staff for putting up with us all these years as well as our parents and family for supporting us throughout this pathway to adulthood. These recent times have been wild, to say the least, but this does not affect the gratitude we feel to have reached this point together.”
Combs then discussed the bond created by being part of such a small graduating class.
“Through the years, we’ve gained and lost classmates, built bonds, annoyed teachers and grown as individuals,” he said. “Being as small of a class as we are, the bond we share is more of a family bond than just being classmates, something many classes from Medora share.”
After providing his class with encouragement for the future, Combs closed optimistic about a future gathering for the students.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped along the way, and good luck to the future graduating classes,” he said. “If this pandemic is over, we’ll have our reunion in 10 years.”
Turner also thanked family, friends and school staff before addressing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the school year.
“Valedictorian speeches are supposed to address our future, but I can’t address our future without addressing the present first,” she said. “When we started this final year of high school, none of us expected things to turn out how they have. We looked so forward to all those special memories that senior classes get to make each and every year. Unfortunately for us, our paths took a different course while reaching the finish line.”
Most seniors get to spend their last days of high school with friends and classmates relishing in school day memories and sharing laughs, she said.
“Sadly for us, we haven’t been able to see each other in a few months,” Turner said. “We didn’t know that day when we walked the hallways in March that it would be our last forever.”
She, however, said the experience has made the class stronger, and she encouraged her classmates to always find the positive in a seemingly negative situation.
“As some of us go on to college, some join the workforce and others proudly serve our country, remember to always believe in yourself, always emphasize the positive and work on the negative,” Turner said. “There will always be challenges ahead of us, but because of the skills we have gained, we can and will overcome any challenge.”
Turner closed her speech with a unifying message for her peers.
“No matter the path that we choose, we will always have one another,” she said. “We are not just a class. We are a family.”
Before the video premiered online, diplomas were delivered to each student’s home Friday morning. That evening, seniors participated in a parade beginning at the school and traveling through the streets of Medora in honor of their accomplishments.
After the parade, students returned to the school and participated in the traditional turning of the tassel and cap toss.