NCHS grads mark end of important chapter

Kirt Manion
Nebraska City News-Press

An occasion punctuated by words such as finished and completed undoubtedly marked the start of fresh chapters for the newly minted class of 2021 at Nebraska City High School on May 9.

The commencement ceremony did mark the end of a 13-year journey from those first tiny steps of kindergarten to the soon to be large leaps of adolescents making their way into the adult world.

End may not be the perfect word to describe this chapter of life but it does acknowledge that the grads did accomplish all that was needed to close the book on high school.

A number of speakers marked the moments of graduation on May 9 at the high school gym including honored student speakers, in order of appearance, Lilly Frields, Christian Tietz, Ellie Higgins and Katherine Luther.

Each had different takes on the best ways to sum up their school experiences at Nebraska City Public Schools and each had inspiring messages for their fellow grads.

Frields spoke of the school experience by comparing it to a dramatic production with script writers, those who set and shaped the story, like parents, neighbors, teachers and friends, to the actors, the graduates themselves. Frields then spelled out other elements of the production.

Those elements included the features of inspiration, motivation and dedication.

Inspiration:

“I know that a substantial chapter of our lives is closing, but I hope it turns into inspiration for all of your futures,” she said.

Motivation:

“I sincerely hope you find the most motivation in yourself. You alone hold the controls of your future.”

Dedication:

“Earning these diplomas is genuine proof that you have already succeeded and that your dedication has not gone unnoticed.”

Frields closed her presentation by saying, “Now, Class of 2021, go out and write your own script.”

The story of the graduating class turned to perseverance as Christian Tietz addressed the grads.

“I believe I can speak for all of us when I say how relieved I am that it’s finally over,” Tietz said.

Those words were not meant to be negative sentiments toward years of school, but instead pointed to the fact that each and every student had gone through trials and tests along the way to May 9, 2021.

“It is only possible to achieve growth through hardship. We have gotten stronger,” Tietz said.

And such challenges should continue.

“I would like to encourage you to find what challenges you,” Tietz said, adding that it is those pursuits that end up being the most fulfilling in life.

When Ellie Higgins took the stage for her address, she took on the question of what it means to be a Pioneer.

It’s a question with a lot of answers.

Higgins said that the Pioneer identity is one built on the combined experiences of life, both big and small, while attending the school—from interactions with students and teachers, to events and all kinds of experiences, mundane to fantastic. It all matters.

But this definition was found to be inadequate.

It means more.

Higgins said this class lives up to the name of Pioneer by being leaders, doing things that are scary and never giving up.

This class measured up to that and more—especially since the 2020-21 school year was experienced during a global pandemic.

Still, what does it really mean to be a Pioneer?

Higgins said in talking to her classmates, she found that being a Pioneer meant being a part of a school family and knowing that your fellow Pioneers will always have your back.

That didn’t stop with graduation.

“No matter where you are headed next, you will continue to be a Pioneer and continue to be a part of this family,” Higgins said.

Katherine Luther closed out the speeches made by honored student speakers with a reference to the moments that make up a lifetime.

“In our lifetimes, we will have millions of moments that define who we are,” Luther said. “In this moment, I give you one piece of advice—Do not fear failure but please be terrified of regret.”

Life will  be hard and there will be tests, but Luther said she knows that her classmates won’t back down.

“The thing about this class is that I know you will all rise to the occasion over and over again.”