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A class of leaders

SEV graduates 80; Class excelled in athletics, academics

-Photo courtesy of Julie Vinsand, The Gowrie News
Southeast Valley graduate Carson Suchan receives a hug from his father, Andy, on Sunday in Gowrie.

GOWRIE — The final year has been one of obstacles, success and building for the future for Southeast Valley’s Class of 2022.

This year’s graduating group of 80 students marked the first in school history to be together from the start of middle school — fifth grade — through their senior year as Jaguars.

Southeast Valley doesn’t indicate valedictorians, but five students — Reed Andrews, Rylie Ferrari, Aaron Graves, Asa Haub and Kolson Kruse — finished with 4.0 GPAs.

Haylee Welter and Shelby Mills were the keynote student speakers during Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

The future may be uncertain, but while walking the halls of Southeast Valley High School, the students grew into leaders.

-Photo courtesy of Julie Vinsand, The Gowrie News
Caden Larson's parents, Peggy and Scott, share a proud moment as their son receives his Southeast Valley High School diploma on Sunday in Gowrie.

“This is the first class that began middle school as Jaguars, rather than Eagles or Warriors,” said Southeast Valley Principal Kerry Ketcham. “This class has a tremendous number of leaders in it.

“This shows up in many ways. In athletics, our boys won the first ever state championship for Southeast Valley High School in football. Part of that was due to the offseason training and conditioning regimen led by these students.”

This group of Jaguars didn’t just succeed in the athletic realm, they also excelled in the classroom and are ready to make a big jump into society.

“We had our first senior serve as a legislative page (Haylee Welter),” Ketcham said. “We have three students entering the Army National Guard and one going into the Marines. Our Student Council with this year’s seniors as leaders, was the most active council we have had in Southeast Valley history.

“Four of our seniors received an Associates in Arts degree from Iowa Central before their high school graduation. In a system that requires 52 credits to graduate, 34 students earned more than 60 credits and one student earned 78.5 credits plus 25 college credits through dual credit classes with a GPA above 3.9.”

-Photo courtesy of Julie Vinsand, The Gowrie News
Southeast Valley senior Shelby Mills speaks during Sunday’s commencement ceremony in Gowrie.

While addressing the student body, Mills talked about how the class of 2022 fought through all odds and obstacles.

“I am extremely proud of each of my classmates for never giving up on anything for the last four years,” Mills said. “We have battled and scrapped for every accomplishment we have achieved because nothing came easy to us. For those reasons, I am confident that we are all going to live out our biggest dreams.”

Mills went on to talk about how the Jaguars were resourceful during the COVID-19 pandemic to carve out their own paths to the goals they set.

“It was extremely difficult for athletes to carry on with their normal summer training; our weightlifting schedule was canceled, running groups and sprint training was canceled, as well as workouts for the upcoming sports seasons were canceled,” Mills said. “However, we did what we could at home on our own, such as our own running on the gravel roads and body weight exercises.

“We didn’t let it stop us from getting to where we wanted to be.”

Haub, who was the student body class president, talked about how unique the Class of 2022 was.

“I think what makes our class unique is the diversity of people who make it up,” Haub said. “Most of us have nothing in common, except for our shared experiences since fifth grade, when we joined.

“The experiences are the only things we all share, in just about any other way we are all unique.

“I also believe everyone in our class is fully capable of leaving an impact on the world, if you look at the things we’ve accomplished just this year it’s not hard to see why.

“We’ve definitely left an impact on the school, with state qualifiers in robotics, cross country, track and then the state championship in football. I think it’s quite easy to believe that everyone is capable of things far beyond what is expected.”

There were 80 individuals that walked across the stage on Sunday, but the student body was their own biggest supporters.

“Our class had a lot of fun supporting each other and rooting our classmates on in our respective activities,” Kruse said. “Athletically we took our school to new heights and left it in a better place than when we got there.”

With their high school days in the past, the Class of 2022 is ready to move forward and make their stamp on the world.

“It’s difficult to know what their direct impact will be on the world in general, but I’m confident this group will be excellent family members, productive community members, and active citizens of our state and nation,” Ketcham said. “The one thing that will never stand in their way is work ethic.

“They know the value of sustained effort in reaching goals.”

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