PESHTIGO—Hundreds of friends and family members attended Peshtigo High School commencement ceremony celebrating the graduation of 86 seniors at the Peshtigo Varsity Field on May 28.

It was an emotional experience not taken for granted, given this past year of adapting to COVID-19. The night felt abnormally normal, as normal events are resuming.

In his address, Superintendent Patrick Rau reminded everyone how far these students have come. “This past year has proven life is unpredictable,” he said. “We learn through our lives that there isn’t a whole lot we can control. This makes life challenging, exciting and unpredictable.”

He emphasized the importance of attitude and “believing you get to do something makes all the difference, that you have a choice.”

Peshtigo School Board President Kelly Jones also encouraged students to look to the past to help define the future. “You have had so many obstacles and hurdles to overcome in the past 13 years of your education and you have used them as learning opportunities and they truly have shined this past year. Now going forward, I want to encourage you to , in your jobs, colleges, military careers, families and relationships—use all of those experiences to help you navigate any obstacle you may face.”

Teacher Luka Zischka, was able to pull from his own experiences to encourage students to thrive even in difficult situations. “I can look at life by how my failures, or better work, hardships, provided me with many opportunities to push myself forward,” he said. “You learn from them. I had mentors and role models in the forms of friends, teachers and employers. I took risks because if I failed, I couldn’t fall too far from where I was.”

In his address he encouraged students “to make their successes outshine their failures.”

“Not attending Peshtigo High School every day will feel strange, but at the same time I am excited for life beyond graduation,” said co-valedictorian Adam Bauman, one of the graduates who spoke. Bauman expressed that he’s grateful for all of the people who have helped him along the way. He encourages younger students “to be social and go to every school event possible whether it be homecoming, prom, basketball games, etc.

“These are fun experiences; you should make the most of them,” he said.

“Take a moment to thank those who have helped you get where you are before you sprint off towards your dreams and goals,” Zischka said as he encouraged the graduates at the conclusion of his address.

Jones concluded her speech to the graduating class saying, “On behalf of the school board, congratulations to all of you. We are so very proud of you and wish nothing but the best for you all.”