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On Sunday afternoon in the Beatrice High School O-Zone, families and friends took time from their Mother’s Day festivities to attend the graduation of the class of 2019.

Senior class president Nalin Theplikhith took time to thank the mothers in the audience during her welcome speech.

“On behalf of the class, we would like to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who have supported and helped us go through the journey to where we are today,” Theplikhith said.

She also took a moment to ease the nerves of any students worried about their futures.

“When you think things are going rough, just remember that you made it through Mrs. Mick’s calculus and Dr. Christen’s physics class,” Theplikhith said.

The school’s principal, Jason Sutter, took a moment to recognize the class’ achievements, including the nine co-valedictorians who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, the 44 students who graduated with a 3.5 or higher GPA and the $1.2 million in scholarships the class received.

The co-valedictorians included Nicholas Crandall, Kayla Gaertig, McKenzie Osborne, Steven Powers, Hannah Rinne, Calvin Shuck, Alexis Thavenet, Evan Witulski and Madison Witulski.

The address was then given by Savannah Benson, who noted the four years of hard work that the students went through to graduate.

“No matter how different our paths our after today, let’s all take time to think about the memories this class has created: Friday Night Lights, homecoming week, snowball, prom, baller days in The Ozone and the powderpuff game. Man that was rough,” Benson said. “I can hands down say that the class of 2019 was one of the strongest classes.”

Benson took a moment to remember Shelby Erb and Jackson Trusty, two students of the class of 2019 who passed away before graduation.

“Shelby Erb, she had a beautiful soul, she was kind and loving, and she had the biggest heart,” Benson said. “The love she had for her friends and family was undeniable. She is strongly missed.”

“Jackson Trusty, he was a great friend to so many,” Benson said. “Personally, I didn’t know him very well, but his mom was actually my teacher when I went to Southern Elementary School. Let me tell you, she had a huge heart, so I couldn’t even imagine how big Jackson’s was.”

Sutter noted the students’ caring and compassion for remembering their classmates.

“You still keep their memory and spirit alive through your actions, your conversations, your kind gestures and your continued personal contact with their families,” Sutter said.

Sutter said the class of 2019 has made a positive impact on both the school and the Beatrice community.

“This class is a group of students that are talented, intelligent, very competitive with yourselves and your peers,” Sutter said. “You demonstrate random acts of kindness and exemplify the elements of the ‘one school, one family.’”

Sutter said that graduation is a time where students leave familiarity and start thinking about their life’s purpose, and gave advice on how they can do that.

“The important thing is to make finding your passion a priority,” Sutter said. “Seek out jobs, courses and life experiences that excite you and allow you to grow and use your strengths and gifts. Do what energizes you and brings you happiness and fulfillment. Learn from every job and experience. Every experience, good or bad, prepares you for life.”

Sutter also stressed that students should not rush towards their future.

“There’s a process that seeds must go through in order to be a plant. You must go through the same process to become the person you are meant to be,” Sutter said. “You may want things to happen right now, but likely if you got what you wanted right now, you wouldn’t be ready for it yet. The process prepares you, strengthens you and grows you to be successful at the right time.”

Sutter also advised that students don’t let praise go to their heads, or critics get into their heads.

“Your identity doesn’t come from what the world says about you, it comes from who you are inside,” Sutter said. “Celebrate this moment, this positive vibe. Graduation from high school only happens once. Be super proud of your classmates, and super proud of yourselves.”

Students were awarded their diplomas by Sutter, Board of Education president Jon Zimmerman and Superintendent Jason Alexander.

The rest of the board lined up to shake the students’ hands as they walked off the stage.

“Class of 2019, I am proud of you,” Sutter said. “We all wish you the very best, and are supporting you as you go through the trials and triumphs of building your wonderful life. We are excited to see the great success you will have as you leave Beatrice High School as graduates.”

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