Albert Lea High School graduates the class of 2023

Published 10:27 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

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The bleachers were packed and parking was difficult to find during a sunny but cool Friday night at Jim Gustafson Field as Albert Lea High School’s class of 2023 celebrated graduation.

“Congratulations seniors, class of 2023,” said Diane Heaney, who addressed the class. “… We’ve made it through another year.”

In her address, Heaney admitted that because she was retiring at the end of the school year, she felt like part of the class.

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“During your high school years you have followed lots of rules, or broken a few,” she said. “You’ve had successes and failures.”

She then commented that the class built relationships with classmates, underclassmen, teachers, coaches, secretaries, custodians, parents and everyone who made up the school.

“We want you to do well and live well,” she said, noting their support system started in kindergarten.

She then informed the students that the rest of the world wouldn’t always operate that way, which was why the district sought to teach them to be independent, confident, resilient and caring.

Heaney informed the students they would have to talk with people and work with people different from themselves.

For her, giving back to family, the community and others was important, as well as connecting with people from different backgrounds and ideals.

“This is what makes life interesting and meaningful,” she said.

She concluded her address by singing a section from “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.”

“It speaks about relationships through the good times and the bad times,” she said.

In her address to her fellow seniors, Ella Bordeaux addressed the accomplishment of growing up.

“In 2010 this day seemed like it was light years away, but man, have these 13 years flown by,” she said. “Each and every one of us should be so proud to be here tonight.”

She also commended the class for overcoming a variety of challenges, including the pandemic. At the same time, she said she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I hope we can all look back on our many memories and inside jokes fondly as we grow old and tell our kids about the good old days,” she said. “I know I can.”

She also thanked parents, guardians, siblings, former teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors and administrators.

“These past couple of weeks have brought a lot of different emotions, from being excited for the future, being happy to be done with school for the summer, but also a little sad to close out this chapter of our lives,” she said. “Whatever emotion you are feeling tonight … know that that is OK.”

In his first remarks as superintendent, Ron Wagner said he was proud.

“Today is a special day for all of us,” he said. “As we gather here to celebrate the achievement of our graduating class, it is a day to honor the hard work, dedication, the perseverance of these young adults who’ve completed significant milestones in their lives.”

He also encouraged graduates to remember the family and community who supported them, and urged them to stay connected by using the lessons they’ve learned to make positive impacts in the world.

“Remember that you’re not alone in this world, and there will always be people who care about you and want to see you succeed.”

Before Bordeaux’s address, the Concert Choir sang “The Call” by Dianne Gryba and “Give Us Hope” by Jim Papoulis under the direction of Heaney. Ava Cunningham was the soloist.

A total of 203 students graduated.