Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant High School Class of 2022 celebrated their hard work over the last 13 years with smiles, tears, and cheers Sunday.
“Begin this new stage of your life with your shoulders back and smiles on your face,” Salutatorian Tina Tran said. “So, from the bottom of my heart thank you for a wonderful high school experience. I can’t imagine a better group of people to spend these last few years with.”
Superintendent John Henriksen gave a more emotional address to the class of 2022 from the perspective of a fellow parent.
“We are so very proud of you,” he said. “We’re excited for you as you begin your journey into young adulthood but there is a big part of us that wants to hold onto you... We feel like there is still more to do, more to tell you, more to train you, but we’re out of time and that makes us sad.”
“We want you to call home often. We’re thankful for texts and texting, but we’ll miss hearing your voice. Please know that we will never ever get tired of hearing from you,” he said through an emotional break in his voice. “The house will seem emptier with you gone and we will miss you.”
“So, Class of 2022, our precious sons and daughters, please forgive us and give us grace if we get a little bit emotional these days, and we try to get you to hang around a little bit more this summer,” Henriksen said in conclusion. “As your parents I think our actions and words and emotions can all be attributed to and summed up by the popular children’s book, written by Robert Munch in 1986:
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be
May God bless the class of 2022.“
As tears streamed down the faces of graduates and parents alike, the choir drove the emotion of the event with their dynamic performance of “The Music of Stillness,” and “That Lonesome Road.”
Beautifully clear high notes rang across the nearly silent gymnasium.
Valedictorian Tyler Ryan Gardner broke the heavy emotional weight in the room as he took the stage to give his commencement address.
“I’ve got to start with our teachers in school,” Gardner said. “Way back in kindergarten and preschool they dealt with us as we were eating glue, swallowing Lincoln logs, putting Play Dough in weird areas, all while trying to teach us.”
“In middle school they had to put up with preteens who smelled terrible,” he said. “Finally, we were mature young adults in high school. I think about this year and think of teacher’s coming into the bathroom and opening a stall only to ask us ‘where did the toilet go?’ and ‘what happened to the soap dispenser?’”
Laughter filled the gymnasium as Gardner continued to then bestow wisdom to his classmates.
“Don’t make too big of a deal about the past or the future,” Gardner said. “Focus on today, there is nothing special about this moment except that this is the moment you are living in right now. Your life won’t last forever. Eventually you’re going to run out of moments. So seize that moment, look at it before it passes you by.”
So, the class of 2022 seized the moment.
As they received their diplomas, each student walked the stage with their shoulders back, and smiles on their faces.
A large grin grew on Henriksens’ face as they each gave him a silly band.
“I did it!” Melia Marcos yelled as she received her diploma and celebrated fully in the present moment.
Even as they accepted their diplomas, student faces could be seen searching the crowd for their loved ones, and in this moment, parents could see that these young adults would, indeed, always be their babies.