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LOUISVILLE – Graduation ceremonies were held last Saturday afternoon inside the Louisville High School gymnasium where 48 seniors took their final bows in front of a packed and often tear-filled audience.

“This is our largest graduating class ever, I believe,” said Brett Schwartz, high school principal.

Like graduates before them, the students of the Class of 2019 will now take different paths for their future journeys – be it moving on to higher education or into the workforce or military service.

They will be missed, according to Schwartz.

“This is an outstanding group of seniors who contributed a lot to the school and the community,” he said prior to the ceremony.

There was also recognition for two students who will move on – back to their homes overseas.

Sarah Krokan from Norway and Fabian Fassl from Austria spent a year at the school as part of its foreign student exchange program.

To be part of this program was something Krokan always wanted to do, she said.

She was glad the school that was chosen was Louisville.

“I feel I got the best spot in the Midwest because everyone here is so friendly,” said Krokan, who spoke excellent English.

“In every school in Norway, the students learn English beginning at age 6.”

She will be returning to her home in the middle of the country in a matter of days, Krokan said.

“I’ll miss all the people I met here. The people here are open and easy to talk to.”

Fassl said he also began learning English at an early age, and his experience this past year in Louisville was similar to Krokan.

“It’s been a very good experience and my host family has been very nice, as well as the community,” said Fassl, who hails from Vienna.

As opposed to living in a big city, a small town like Louisville makes it feel like “you know everyone here,” he said.

“I made a lot of friends here,” Fassl said.

As with all graduations selected students gave speeches offering pleasant memories and future encouragement to their fellow graduates.

Tyler Hiatt recalled trying out for the seventh-grade cross country team, but found it difficult. He didn’t quit, though.

“I kept doing it because I loved the people I was doing it with,” he said.

He and the other graduating students had been on a long journey of hard work throughout the years to reach this point, Hiatt said, but added, “This will help us succeed for the rest of our lives.”

Lauryn Kalkowski told the students to never fear making mistakes for if handled properly, they can be important learning lessons in life.

“They have helped me grow,” she said.

Jordan Winkler said it was an honor for her to attend the school and thanked her classmates for their friendship.

She then finished her speech by reading a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“It’s never too late to be what you want to be.”

Before handing out the diplomas and certificates, Schwartz said he was proud of all the accomplishments the students achieved over the years and offered some helpful advice for the future.

“Use your full potential and never give up on yourself.”

They should always stand up for what they believe in and always be kind to others, he added.

“Make the most of what you have.”

Following the ceremony, the students lined up outside to greet their parents and friends. There were plenty of hugs and picture taking.

That included picture taking by the parents of Joel Magill, who is off to join the Nebraska National Guard.

“We’re very proud of him,” said his mother, Heather Minniear.

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