With hand sanitizer at the ready the Lakeside Lutheran High School Class of 2020 received their diplomas Wednesday, July 1. It was the school’s first ever outside ceremony, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been talked about before, but it took the Class of 2020 to pull it off,” said Principal James Grasby. “It wasn’t supposed to end this way. In the past three and a half months everyone’s lives were overturned. Millions lost their jobs and once busy schedules were vacated and made busy again with things like 550-piece jigsaw puzzles and home improvement projects.”

He said the uncertainty of life is what the world is facing today.

“The fragile flow of life can be overturned or destroyed,” he said. “Congratulations Class of 2020 you did it. You will get your diplomas tonight. It did end the way it was supposed to. Most importantly you and all your guests here tonight and all believers in Jesus have the certainty in the forgiveness with the peace that can never be taken from us.”

Elise Meier, co-valedictorian discussed the “stuff” the Class of 2020 learned while in school at Lakeside.

“It’s taken us so much to get here and God has blessed us with a beautiful day to celebrate,” Meier said. “Throughout high school it seems like we’ve learned a lot of stuff we will never need to know again.”

She said she remembers the fun memories made at Lakeside.

“COVID-19 has shaped how we live our lives,” she said. “We know who holds the future and we can stand firm in the Lord.”

Megan Reinke, co-valedictorian discussed the unexpected over the last four years at Lakeside.

“I hope we did not take for granted these unexpected acts of kindness,” she said of the events over the years. “Each day we sin in our thoughts, words and actions. Nothing we do gives us the right to expect Jesus to love us, yet he still does.”

Lauren Thiele, co-valedictorian said she feared her speech wouldn’t be able to set her apart, so she asked her classmates their thoughts on individuality and setting themselves apart.

“We are different,” she said. “We all take some degree of pride in being different from the person next to us.”

She said being different can be uncomfortable and can lead to struggle.

“Today we will walk away as individuals going our separate ways, yet we are united by the one who saved us. We know we do not need to set ourselves apart Christ has already done that.”

Grace Westrate, co-valedictorian, said she loves reading.

“At the end of a chapter we turn the page and go onto the next,” she said. “At Lakeside I’ve learned to put a lot of trust in God. He’s writing my story as I speak. He’s the reason I’m up here right now.”

Their time at Lakeside has been a chapter in their lives Westrate said.

“We can never know what will happen next in our stories, but there is one thing we can trust that God will guide us as we leave this chapter and go onto the next.”

Isabella Collins, co-salutatorian discussed the videos about Lakeside the students would see when they were in grade school.

“In every video there would be at least one person that would say that their favorite thing was knowing they shared faith with everyone around them,” she said. “I wondered if that was really their favorite thing.”

She asked herself if homecoming, dances, sports and other activities were the favorite thing.

“These are some fun and not so fun memories of our time together,” she said. “Experiencing them with classmates and teachers who shared the same faith is what made them truly special.”

Kirsten Thundercloud, co-salutatorian, said it’s scary that they’ve reached the end of high school.

“We have to make decisions for ourselves,” she said. “We have the comfort of knowing we have a God who helps us through the hard times.”

“I’m sad our time at Lakeside has come to an end, but I’m happy I’ve spent the last four years in a place that has prepared me for both my earthy life and my eternal life.”

Pastor Michael Helwig, Lakeside faculty member told the Class of 2020 the word of God never changes.

“Through every change of life, the word of God never changes and it’s always there for you,” he said. “Put in on an app on your phone,” saying there are many good Bible apps.

He told the students they will fall sometimes.

“You will forget sometimes. What will remind you Christ is to be the middle of your life?”

He encouraged students to remember who they are as they go on to the next phase of life.

“How is Jesus Christ the middle thing of every part,” he asked.

“I wouldn’t have drawn up the 2019-20 school year how it went. I would not have written that story. I wouldn’t have planned it that way, but isn’t it cool that God did?”

Helwig said the Class of 2020 will always remember their senior year and graduation ceremony.

“I guarantee you will remember your senior year much longer than other seniors,” he said. “God be with you all. I love you, in Christ.”

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