Seventy-four graduate in the Class of 2003

Despite a nasty turn in the weather on Friday that sent commencement ceremonies indoors, the revised celebration went off without a hitch in the Maple Lake High School gym.

MLHS Principal Mary James told the crowd that graduation practice took place under sunny skies Friday morning at Irish Country Stadium. She said a decision wasn’t made to move the ceremonies indoors until about 6:30 that evening, when it became clear that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. And James said in only an hour, an impromptu crew of students and staff set up a stage and chairs to get the gym ready for the 8 p.m. ceremonies.

Senior Class President Ryan Finke presented the Welcome Address, urging classmates not to allow themselves to be defeated by future obstacles or setbacks. “I ask you, my classmates, to swerve around those potholes and take the road less traveled. Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die tomorrow.”

Commencement speaker Tom ‘TK’ Keating, a counselor at the Turning Point alternative school in Monticello, drew laughter when he talked about the changes in technology seen in the lifetimes of the Class of 2003, when the world went from the comforting simplicity of rotating knobs on television sets into the digital age of computerized complexity. “This is an exciting time to be around,” Keating said. “And your class has embraced that. But for some of us, it’s a little scary.”

And he said the graduates should look forward to lives filled with endless possibilities. “Tonight's commencement is not an end,” he said. “It’s a beginning.  “Get in the game and get involved and most of all, those quality relationships are what matters.”

Before announcing the Roll Call of Graduates, retiring superintendent Ken Engel delivered his last address to a MLHS graduating class. “It has been my great pleasure during the last 40 years to be associated with the students and staff of Maple Lake Schools,” he said. “I stand before you for the last time, and I do so with joy and pride.”

Engel asked the graduates before him to create lives of fulfillment. “My greatest hope for the Class of 2003 is that you will fill your lives with joy.”

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