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Every graduating class faces its challenges, but the class of 2021 had to overcome obstacles it couldn’t have imagined. However, as of Thursday night, the Ellensburg High School seniors officially graduated, showing their success through one of the most unusual academic years the town has ever seen.

The coronavirus pandemic affected schools across the nation, and in Ellensburg, students had to adapt to changing class schedules and remote learning, while under stress of the worst international pandemic in over a century.

“I feel unstoppable at this point, honestly,” said graduate Diego Magana.

The ceremony took place at the EHS football field, with students in the bleachers and their families in the field. Because the pandemic is still ongoing, everyone was required to wear masks.

The staff speaker for the graduations was Judi Nicolai, who told the graduating class to continue being lifelong learners because they are the future of the country. She brought up how they will be voting soon if they aren’t already, and they have a responsibility to stay informed.

Class speaker Garrett Simpson was next, and he spoke about the struggles the class faced during the pandemic. It was a time when nobody knew what would happen, and things could change overnight.

These graduates saw what happened to the class of 2020, and didn’t think they would be graduating during the same pandemic, but here they were. He told them they don’t know what the future will be like, but they will be able to handle it like “rockstars.”

“It’s been a long four years but, this was all worth it,” said graduate Jacob Roseberry. “We have gone through so many ups and downs but this makes it all worth it right here. I’m just excited.”

Performances were done by Mason Walsh, who sang “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas, and Elliot Sander, who played “The River” by Garth Brooks.

“It doesn’t really feel real right now,” said graduate Sullivan Turner. “I don’t know if it’s the cold or the excitement that’s making me shiver.”

Jaden Burroughs gave her class speech between these performances, were she talked not only about the unprecedented year, but also gave the classic line, “tomorrow marks the first day of the rest of our lives.”

At this point, the graduates were certified by Superintendent Jinger Haberer, and one by one had their names read off to receive their certificates.

The final speech of the night was given by class president Drew Bland, who directed the high school graduates to turn their tassels, and throw their hats in the air, which was followed by a fireworks show, capping off the end of a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime school year with a bang.

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