Orion graduation speakers offer life lessons

Mindy Carls
Lily Moen welcomes attendees
Noah Seys Valdictorian
Riley Filer gives farewell address
Peter Nedved, School Board

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have had to make the best of changing circumstances, changing rules and guidelines, all the while working towards a consistent goal, which is today,” Orion school board president Peter Nedved said during graduation on Sunday, May 23, at Charger Field.

The Class of 2021 demonstrated three qualities, he said. “First, resilience. You have adapted to these changing times with your creativity and enthusiasm to make things closer to what they had been.

“Second, perseverance. Through all the constant change, you followed your true compass,” Nedved said.

The seniors persevered through hybrid learning with remote lessons, he said. They had to put extracurricular activities on hold, but they were ready to participate when the activities resumed.

Finally, the seniors showed empathy, Nedved said. They brought Whitey’s ice cream to quarantined classmates. They sat in their socially-distanced cars to visit with each other. They called older relatives to check on them.

The seniors also showed determination, respect and how to handle disappointment, he said.

“Let us always appreciate what we have and each day we are given,” Nedved said.

Senior class president Lily Moen gave the welcome speech.

The seniors and their supporters “are immensely proud of what we have accomplished,” she said. “Tackling a year like this one so gracefully is no small feat. We spent years of our life learning, growing, working and challenging ourselves to finally get to this moment, and it almost didn’t happen.”

The seniors don’t know what lies ahead of them, Moen said.

“What we do know is that within us, we have the ability to do great things, become wonderful people and change the world, something that so desperately needs to happen right now,” she said.

Noah Seys delivered the valedictorian’s speech.

High school highlights for the Class of 2021 included the solar eclipse their freshman year, the endless snow days during their sophomore year and the COVID-19 lockdown their junior year, Seys said.

“What is the purpose of all this hardship that we’re facing now?” Seys asked. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I believe that life doesn’t have a natural, innate purpose.”

That may sound bleak, but it doesn’t have to be, he said.

“The thing about having a purpose is that it makes you feel like you should do something,” Seys said. “But without a purpose all of your ‘shoulds’ become ‘coulds,’ and your world of expectations suddenly becomes a world of opportunities. So when you look back, don’t worry too much what should have happened or what you should have done. You did what you could, and that’s something you can be happy about.”

Student Council President Riley Filler gave the farewell speech.

“No one will quite understand the struggle of this year and the triumph of getting through it like the people seated behind you, to the left of you and to the right of you,” she said. “We’re connected by a bond that can’t be compared to any other class.”

She told her mother Jill’s favorite story. A woman planning her funeral told her pastor she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand.

Filler explained:

“When the dishes of the main course were cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or apple pie.”

She concluded, “So, as I say my last farewell, Class of 2021, keep your fork, the best is yet to come.”