The Hastings High School graduation was moved inside Thursday due to the heavy rain in the area. The Class of 2011 sat at the front of the Cochran Gym, which was filled with friends and family of the seniors.
The ceremony started with the traditional Pomp and Circumstance and the Star Spangled Banner. Principal Louis Adipietro gave the opening introductions to the crowd and challenged the graduates to go above and beyond.
"We have challenged you to go beyond the norms," Adipietro said.
He also went on to encourage the seniors to appreciate where they came from.
"Stories are what happen before memories are formed," Adipietro said. "Remember the stories that took place over the last four years."
The principal's speech was followed by a greeting from senior class president Kaela Sanborn-Hum. She spoke of what her class has the potential to accomplish.
"I do believe we all have the power and the courage to change what's wrong," Sanborn-Hum said.
Rear Admiral Ronald Jesberg of the United States Navy was the commencement speaker. Jesberg graduated from Hastings High School 58 years ago, so he told the students he understood the way they felt. He told stories of his time in the armed forces and reminded students to never be deterred by failure.
"Evaluators may be quick to declare your mission a failure when you know it's not true," Jesberg said. "You are the one person who has the final say."
He encouraged them to make mistakes because they are what build strong and successful people.
"Mistakes not only happen, they create roadmaps for success."
Valedictorian Julia Salinario went a different route and opened her speech by jokingly complaining about Hastings being too small and too boring. When she openly asked what she would miss most about Hastings though, she said it was "the comfort" the town provides.
"We have created a connection to this town and each other that distance can never change," Salinario said.
Salinario said there was one overriding quality that separated the Hastings Class of 2011 from all the others.
"We all share a certain quality and that's openness," she said. "I really believe our openness will be our legacy."
It is qualities like these that will help the newly minted high school graduates achieve the goals they set forth for themselves.
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