The 63rd FHS Commencement Ceremony honored 206 graduates at Bob O’Neill Field at the high school
For the Fridley High School (FHS) Class of 2021, the 63rd Commencement Ceremony marked a momentous milestone of resiliency, determination and grit. A total of 206 graduates received their high school diplomas at Bob O’Neill Field on June 3, 2021, celebrating the end of a challenging school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The graduation ceremony was the first time that all members of the Class of 2021 were fully reunited, as schools across the world transitioned to distance learning in March 2020. Through the past year, some seniors navigated changes from hybrid to distance learning, while others completed their senior year through Fridley Online Academy. The commencement ceremony highlighted the unmatched tenacity that seniors exhibited through their final year of high school education.
Student emcees Micah Niewald and Kevin Lee hosted the evening ceremony, which focused on overcoming struggles, gaining and demonstrating strength, facing challenges head on, and changing the world for the better.
In her evening remarks, Principal Patty Hand commended the graduating seniors for their resilience, perseverance and hard work, and acknowledged the families of the graduating class for showing immense amounts of support throughout the unprecedented school year.
“Thank you, families, for your collaboration as we worked together to support our students to graduate tonight from Fridley High School. We deeply appreciate you,” Hand said. She also took a moment to acknowledge the hardworking FHS staff members. “I want to thank the entire Fridley High School faculty and staff for your dedication to the education of these young adults,” said Hand. “Thank you for being role models, mentors and truly believing in the success of each and every student.”
Graduating senior Magaly Ruiz Barrios gave the welcome address, and discussed the frustration of lost experiences that seniors had looked forward to. “Our senior year was cut short, and those memories that we planned and dreamed about never happened,” said Ruiz Barrios. “But this is just the beginning, and we are the future. I promise there is no other class in the world that is as strong as the Class of 2021.”
Student speakers Grace Brant and George Ombuya also emphasized the sentiment of strength in their joint speech.
“We are proud to have pushed ourselves, despite the never-ending challenges we faced,” said Brant. “As a class, we have faced the unknown, and changing future ahead of us with confidence, not fear.”
“We never could have expected a deadly pandemic would have affected our junior and senior years, but here we are... Stronger because we made it through,” said Ombuya.
Hasna Mohamed encouraged her classmates to have the courage to make a difference. “The Class of 2021 is full of bright enthusiastic and passionate human beings who are part of an entire generation of people who are currently, and will continue, to create positive changes.”
Elected to give the faculty address by the senior class, AVID and English teacher Elizabeth Jensen praised the graduates for navigating the uncharted waters of the past two years.
“I hope that when you look back at your high school years, you remember this was a time of great resilience and great change,” said Jensen. “You are focused on social justice and making sure that everyone has a place in this world. You are exactly who I hope will change this world for the better.”
Superintendent Dr. Kim Hiel closed the speeches of the evening, remarking on how the Class of 2021 will continue to rise. “Each and every one of you rose to the challenge,” said Hiel. “Class of 2021, there is nothing that you cannot do. We are confident that you will continue to rise above for the rest of your life.”
Nearly half of this year’s senior class graduated with honors and four students earned an Associate of Arts degree along with their high school diploma. A total of 16 students completed the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), earning eligibility for the internationally-recognized and distinguished IB Diploma.
Click below to view the Fridley High School Class of 2021 Photo Album: