by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
On a warm summer evening, the 15 members of the Posen High School Class of 2020 received their diplomas and walked across the stage set up on the football field.
It was a celebration 13 years in the making, but delayed six weeks because of the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Minutes before the graduates-to-be were to walk along the high school track to their seats in front of the stage, there was another hiccup in the long-awaited event as senior Kyle Kensa experienced what appeared to be heat exhaustion in the humid conditions.
Emergency personnel there for the event came over to assist the young man, along with his family. He was given fluids and was able to endure — much the way the class has in the COVID-19 era.
“None of us could have ever predicted the way this year would go for our graduates, but I am proud to say our students, in fashion with how they deal with life in general, have stood tall, stayed positive and are now looking towards the future,” said superintendent Michelle Wesner, moments after welcoming everyone to the ceremony.
Following Wesner’s speech, she introduced salutatorian George Kroll and valedictorian Matthew Szatkowski for their addresses.
“Throughout the years, many people have asked me the question, are you ready for school to be over? And the answer is no. I loved going to school and I loved playing sports. My heart was broken when I heard that both would be taken from my grasp, much earlier than expected,” said Kroll passionately. He went on to express all the aspects of school he missed and what could have been.
“I envisioned spending the final moments of my high school days in a classroom, alongside my closest friends,” he continued. “I don’t have the power to change the past, none of us do, but we all have the power to change our attitude, change the way we look at life, change the way we move forward from this point on.”
Szatkowski was a bit more sentimental during his speech.
“From our first game to our last, our first few classes together to screwing around with our easy schedule at the end,” said Szatkowski. “It all seems like it was just a couple of days ago. I didn’t expect all this to fly straight past me the way it did.
“It’s been a crazy, stupidly fun time, and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I’ve loved my time with all of you, and I couldn’t have asked for a better class to spend my time with.”
Szatkowski added that not everyone can understand what it is like to be part of a small class, “to where we know each other as well as we do. This school is special in that regard. Not just anyone can be a Viking. Not many can say they’re 66 strong.” That’s how many high school students were in attendance back in March.
Since there was neither an end of the school year academic awards’ program or the traditional post-school banquet, the accolades were merged into the commencement exercise with each graduate standing in the spotlight of the sun, setting in the west, brightening each face as Wesner read the accomplishments of each student.
Boys’ basketball coach Chris Keller, girls’ basketball coach Karl Momrik and football coach Greg Pietsch took turns at the podium. During the presentations, it was announced that Eyan Hincka was the male athlete of the year and Riley Krajniak was female athlete of the year.
At the conclusion, the seniors turned their tassels, threw their caps into the air and walked out the same way they came in — this time to be greeted by thankful family members.