‘We must cherish what we have been given’
62 graduate from Eagle Grove H.S. Saturday
EAGLE GROVE — The opportunity for the graduating seniors of Eagle Grove High School to accept their high school diplomas in front of family and community was finally made a reality on Saturday after the school year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was hot and humid, but hosting commencement at the high school football field created opportunities for social distancing. Chairs were spaced out on the field for the seniors to sit. The public watched from the bleachers.
The class of 2020 featured 62 graduates. Not every graduate was present for the ceremony.
“I am so happy to see your smiling faces today after weeks of uncertainty,” said Briauna Mingus, class salutatorian. “COVID-19 created troubling times, but I’m proud to be here once again with the class of 2020 and our amazing community.”
Mingus earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.965 during her high school career.
“It’s hard to believe how far the students you see before you have come,” Mingus said. “With the help of our great teachers, community, friends and family, we have transformed from children crying at the slightest inconvenience — well, maybe that hasn’t changed for some of us — to middle schoolers making some cringe-worthy social choices to seniors in high school facing bright futures.”
Mingus said she can look back at some of her difficulties now and smile.
She remembered crying over learning to count change in kindergarten.
“To think that it was a stressor back then makes me laugh,” Mingus said.
Middle school was a bit of a rough time, she recalled.
“Middle school is where everything goes down hill for a little bit,” Mingus said. “Everyone does regrettable things at this age, unfortunately. If you knew me at the time, you can probably still remember that not so little edgy phase I went through where all black outfits and purple lipstick were my staples.
“However, other people were also making some questionable choices. Many girls were going boy crazy, which looking back is a mystery to me. A majority of the boys hadn’t learned what deodorant was yet.”
Middle school did offer some memorable field trips to places like King’s Pointe Resort in Storm Lake and Adventureland in Altoona, Mingus said.
“However, let’s just say I don’t want to remember a majority of middle school,” she said.
It turns out, high school went better.
“Luckily, high school is where I truly created memories that will last for a lifetime,” Mingus said. “Junior year is when I really started to come out of my shell and began to enjoy high school. Choir and band is where I felt right at home. Band especially is where I formed the greatest friendships. I also participated in things outside my comfort zone. I pushed myself to join golf.”
In Mingus’ senior year, she furthered her involvement in school activities.
“Senior year I started to become even more involved,” Mingus said. “I joined student council and decided to take more challenging classes.”
Those included composition and public speaking.
“These courses are where I truly began to bond with the class of 2020,” she said. “Junior and senior year offered me more than I could ever hope for in a high school experience.”
Mingus credited her classmates for staying focused during the pandemic.
“As we all know, our senior year was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Mingus said. “Throughout this time, a majority of seniors and some juniors continued college courses online and did what was expected of them. Our class missed out on a lot, but we must not dwell on what we have lost. We must cherish what we have been given and what the future has in store.
“As we move on today with our celebrations, I want you to take some time to reflect on all the incredible people who have helped you along the way and all the great opportunities you have had in the Eagle Grove School District. I want each of you to show the world what Eagle Grove can do.”
Kennedy Soper, the class valedictorian, said she was proud of the class. Soper earned a 3.973 cumulative grade-point average.
“Well guys, we finally made it,” Soper said. “Twelve years of struggles and triumphs have led to this point. We are the graduating class of 2020. I say that with immense pride.”
She said the virus took events away that won’t be able to be replaced.
“COVID-19 stole our prom, our sports seasons and our last day of school,” Soper said. “Those memories we will never have the chance to make. So I urge you to reminisce on your high school career, the memories you made, the things you learned and the people who influenced you.”
Soper reflected on the evolution of the class.
“In elementary school, we learned how to read, how to write, how to count and how to explore our creativity,” she said. “These years are our foundations and also our most curious times.”
Soper added, “I remember how amazed we were at learning the constellations in the exploratory lab. Seeing the bright stars light up was so exciting.”
Other memories were a little more painful.
“Or in PE when we raced the little square scooters and always ran over our fingers,” Soper said. “That was one of the worst pains in the world, but we toughed it out because we were competitive and all we cared about was whose team won.”
In middle school, Soper said the Character In Action program was impactful to her.
“The most meaningful part of middle school was the Character In Action program,” Soper said. “We got to teach our peers about subjects we were passionate about and talk about topics not discussed in regular classes.”
Some of Soper’s favorite high school moments took place on the same field she stood on Saturday.
“Nothing will ever beat spending chilly fall Friday nights under the lights of the football field, cheering on the team, whether we won or lost,” Soper said.
Soper offered some advice for underclassmen.
“High school is a time to discover yourself and explore your interests,” she said. “Memories that are made over the course of these four years will last a lifetime, so I urge you not to have any regrets.”