Administrator’s Corner: Class of ’23 prepares to graduate

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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Administrator’s Corner by Chris Dibble

Chris Dibble

As I sit and write this reflection, the 139th Albert Lea Area Schools Commencement Ceremony is just over one week away. Approximately 200 Albert Lea area students, as well students from the region who have open-enrolled for school in Albert Lea, will take the ceremonial walk across the stage and move from Albert Lea students to Albert graduates and alumni. I am proud of each and every student who will be receiving diplomas on Friday.

Students spend 12 to 15 years preparing for this event and should be proud of what they are accomplishing on that short walk across the stage. It is hard to imagine that students in the Class of 2023 were born about the same time as Facebook and Twitter — and are actually older than the iPhone. To a person like me who has been working in schools over the past 18 years, it is easy to recognize how quickly new advancements in technology and life itself have changed. These students have lived that change, and have been required to navigate a life that includes 24-7 access to communication and a variety of new challenges and opportunities that students of my generation never had to worry about.

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With that said, the Class of 2023 has overcome those challenges and are ready to join the workforce and college campuses to become the next generation of leaders and decision makers. The Class of 2023 worked diligently to overcome the social hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic put in the way. These students spent over a year in isolation and were forced to motivate themselves to learn outside of a “normal” classroom. With the help of staff members, these students spent their ninth- and 10th-grade years learning virtually, which they did with curiosity and success. I would also be missing a big opportunity to thank the families that worked alongside the students in making school work from afar. Without family support, things would have been much more difficult for students.

Weather permitting, the Class of 2023 will be honored at Jim Gustafson Field beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday. There will be no tickets for this event, and the general public is invited to attend. This year’s featured speaker will be outgoing vocal music director Diane Heaney, who will be retiring at the end of the year. Diane has spent the past 30 years with Albert Lea Area Schools and has left a legacy that will surely live on. Her final concert will be held on Monday and is also open to the public.

We look forward to celebrating the Class of 2023 with staff and families. Congratulations to all graduates and good luck to you in whatever your future holds. We are proud of your accomplishments and look forward to seeing the great things you will surely accomplish!

Chris Dibble is principal of Albert Lea High School.