Congratulations, Heritage Hills Class of 2024

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By Don Steen ~ Staff Writer • reporter@psci.net

The Heritage Hills High School Class of 2024 gave their last hurrah as a student body Saturday at Lincoln Amphitheatre as they received their diplomas. The class managed to fill the venue to capacity with friends, family, and well wishers on a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. 

Class President Evalyn Grace Keller welcomed the crowd to the amphitheatre and encouraged her classmates to greet the rest of their lives with enthusiasm. She likened life to a roller coaster, where some are eager to sit at the front while others seek relative normalcy towards the back. Keller said it was fine to take things easy, but urged the Class of 2024 to seek thrills and new experiences as well.

“I challenge each and every one of you to be the one who sits up front once in a while,” she said.

Next up was Mia Lawalin, one of two valedictorians this year. She joked that she had been preparing for this speech since she was a freshman, both as an ambitious goal to strive toward and to craft the best possible draft when the time came. 

Lawalin centered her address on overcoming challenges, such as public speaking. While she noted that several drafts of her speech had different tones, depending on how those efforts were progressing, the final version was one of encouragement.

“We will not be defined by our failures, because we aren’t done yet,” said Lawalin. We have a story to tell. We have a difference to make.”

Braxton Schaefer, Lawalin’s co-valedictorian, joked that he had spent a great deal of time trying to avoid having to give a speech. He told his classmates and the audience that the memories forged in school will last far beyond the weekend’s celebrations. 

Despite the challenges on the horizon, Schaefer found comfort in the efforts of his teachers, parents, and other mentors to prepare the Class of 2024 for the journey ahead. He believed the character forged in each member of his class at Heritage Hills High School will shine through whatever comes.

“You will always be a patriot,” said Schaefer, quoting one of his coaches.

Salutatorian Ally Schipp closed out the student speeches with an expression of faith in all her classmates and the work they’ve put in.

“We will always have this town, this school, and this moment in common,” she said. “Find your gift and share it with everyone you meet.”

Before presenting the class to Superintendent Dan Scherry, Principal Kate Kress recognized the top 10 students of the Class of 2024. These included: Mia Lawalin, Braxton Schaefer, Ally Schipp, Molly Schnieders, Samantha Haefling, Braylon Caswell, Catherine Mitchell, Willow Lee, Maxwell Etienne and MaKenzie Smith.

Featured Image: A wide shot of the graduation ceremony for the HHHS Class of 2024

Here they come: The graduating class of 2024 filed into the Lincoln Amphitheater to begin the graduation ceremony

HHHS Class President Evalyn Grace Keller welcomed everyone to the ceremony and delivered a message to the graduating class, telling them to ‘look for new experiences’ and ‘seek thrills’ in their future endeavors

Salute to the class: Valedictorians Braxton James Schaefer and Mia Lawalin each gave their fellow graduates a heartwarming speech at the ceremony

Salutatorian Ally Schipp closed out the student speeches with a devoted message congratulating everyone for their hard work and perseverance, and wished them all good luck in the future

Graduating senior Kyra Campbell beams with pride as she receives her diploma during the graduation ceremony