Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood graduates encouraged to 'embrace every opportunity'

By MEGAN HUGHES

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Ironwood — Twenty-nine students graduated from Luther L. Wright High School at its 132nd commencement ceremony Friday evening. The ceremony featured speeches from members of faculty and the school board, as well as musical performances by the high school band and Accent! choir.

The ceremony began with a presentation of the colors by the JROTC and a processional walk, including representatives of the upcoming classes each holding a flag for the classes 2024-2035. The final students to enter were the class of 2023, who made their way to their seats as family and friends applauded.

“Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate our students as they complete the final step of their high school education,” said K-12 Principal Melissa Nigh. “Each of you sitting here today has had a positive impact on one or more of our seniors.”

“Seniors! I love the motto that you chose, ‘Oh the places you’ll go,’ by Dr. Seuss. As you will all be taking different paths when you leave the walls of LLW.” Nigh recited a section from the book, encouraging the students to continue on their path forward.

“I’m confident that each of you is prepared for the next journey in your life. You are educated young adults and I encourage you to embrace every opportunity as you strive to meet your goals that will lead you to success,” she said.

Superintendent Travis Powell spoke about his experiences with the class.

“It always amazes me to see them grow through the years. It seems like just yesterday that they were seventh graders eager to go up to the third floor,” Powell said.

He spoke about the tradition of commencement and that it is the goal of every faculty member to help the students along the way.

He spoke about the academic honors night and the awards that were granted this year. He said more than $166,400 was distributed to the class of 2023, including approximately $82,000 from the Ironwood Area Scholarship Foundation and another $63,000 from the Dalpra Family Scholarship Fund. “That is approximately $5,700 per graduating senior.”

Following Powell’s speech, the Accent! performed a rendition of “Bridge over Troubled Water,” by Paul Simon.

Retired social studies teacher Ted Sim was the guest speaker. He retired from LLW in 2022 after 30 years of teaching. He was asked speak by the graduates.

Sim spoke about how he had seen the students grow firsthand.

He listed three key traits a person can embody to live a happy life: optimism, hard work and perseverance.

“Being optimistic opens your eyes to things you never would have thought existed,” he said, asking students to try and look at the best in a scenario, while encouraging them to work hard. “Do not give up or quit because someone says you do not have what it takes.”

“If you preserve and work hard, you will ultimately be successful,” said Sim. “Giving it your all, no matter what, pushing forward no matter the adversity, being so tired at the end of the day that you can hardly move, and then getting up the next morning and doing it all over again, this will give you self satisfaction that you know you have done all you could.”

Later, graduates walked across the stage to collect their diplomas, presented by Powell, Nigh and school board President Caroline Delich.

This year’s student speakers were Salutatorian Jazlynn Oja and Valedictorian Lauryn Ramme. They both shared memories and fondness for their years in school.

Oja spoke about the importance of all those involved with LLW who worked so hard to make this day possible, from members of the board, to teachers, bus drivers and everyone in between. “On behalf of the entire class, I extend our gratitude to each and every one of you.”

“As we enter this next chapter in our lives, we will undoubtedly meet many hardships and trials. So my classmates, I urge you to not dread these hardships but instead, embrace them,” said Oja. “Even if you fail you should not let it define you.”

Ramme spoke about the importance of family in her own life. “You encouraged me to take risks and not fear them,” she said, regarding her parents. She, too, thanked the staff for their support of the students through the years, and shared some anecdotes of their time at the school, which was met with laughter from the students and guests.

“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Many of us have been together since kindergarten. We are leaving with the knowledge that we have done something great, and that we are going off to do things that are even better,” she said.

Following closing remarks by K-12 Assistant Principal Dan Martinson, the students proceeded outside for photos with family and to speak with friends. The students gathered on the LLW football field for a celebratory hat toss to the cheers of onlookers.

 
 
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