PLATTSMOUTH – Members of Plattsmouth High School’s Class of 2020 saw plenty of promise and hope Saturday as they celebrated their commencement ceremony.
More than 100 seniors used the turf field of Blue Devil Stadium as a backdrop for their pandemic-delayed graduation event. The vast majority of the 133 students in the Class of 2020 participated in a ceremony that featured smiles, songs and social distancing.
Seven academic stars provided speeches to a crowd sitting in the stadium bleachers. Class of 2020 President Hunter Smith welcomed the audience to the event, and co-valedictorians Lexi Schroeder, Katie Rathman, C.J. Wiseman, Chloe Sabatka, Riley Sedlak and Isabella Chappell provided their thoughts on key topics of their senior years.
Smith told the audience the coronavirus pandemic had caused many changes for seniors since their last day of in-person school in March. He said many students had tried to make the best of the situation and had grown closer with their parents, guardians, siblings and other relatives.
“Many of us forget there is a silver lining in this time of crisis,” Smith said. “The time is ticking for many of us who are leaving the nest to start the next chapter of our lives. This pandemic has brought us together as families.”
Schroeder spoke about many of the impactful events the senior class had experienced over the past four years. These included historic flooding, heavy snowfalls, bedbugs in the school building and the coronavirus pandemic. She said graduates would use these moments to become strong members of society.
“High school has flown by,” Schroeder said. “We can all agree that we have made memories that will last forever.”
Rathman focused on the importance of friendships during her speech. She said this year’s graduates had been there for one another during good and tough times.
“Who our friends are define us as people,” Rathman said. “They make us the best versions of ourselves we can be, and all throughout high school they have helped shape us into the people we are today. Look around you. Even though we may be at a six-foot distance, we are still close to one another.”
Wiseman used the phrase “It too shall pass” as the basis for his speech. He was confident everyone in the Class of 2020 would overcome the recent adversity with many crowning achievements.
“This class has faced storms and floods and sickness and countless individual struggles,” Wiseman said. “This disease has taken a lot from us. It has taken moments and times and laughs and dreams. Yet even as I speak to you in July rather than May, I have hope.”
Sabatka told the crowd about the many “lasts” the senior class had cherished during the fall and winter months. She said the coronavirus pandemic had taken away the opportunity to savor those experiences in the spring, but it had not erased the many positive memories people had given seniors on the Plattsmouth High School campus.
“I want to give a huge thank you to the teachers, custodians, office staff and all of our coaches for making our high school experience one we can remember,” Sabatka said.
Sedlak talked about the vital role community members had played in the lives of all graduates. She said she and her classmates would chase their dreams knowing they had plenty of support from Plattsmouth residents.
“Today marks the end of the high school chapter in all of our lives, and we will move down the road of life,” Sedlak said. “For some of us, this road will take crazy turns. Some of us will further our education, and some will go into the workforce. But no matter where life takes us from here, we will always remember our home.”
Chappell told the audience many seniors had grown up with visions of becoming a superhero or princess they had seen in the movies or read about in books. As they stepped toward adulthood, those goals remained just as vibrant and important even though Superman and Barbie were no longer their career choices.
“I don’t see superheroes or princesses or world dominators,” Chappell said. “I see aspiring doctors, educators, veterinarians, special wildlife agents and many more careers. I see those who will go straight into the workforce, soldiers who will serve our country and many who will find a trade that they will succeed in.
“As we start this next chapter in our lives, we need to hold on to our dreams and run straight towards them.”
Four seniors displayed their musical talents throughout the ceremony. Gracey Simms delivered the national anthem for the crowd, and Sarah Schreiber sang “Light In the Sky” while strumming a ukulele. Kira Leget and Kayla Harvey teamed up for a vocal duet entitled “For Good.” All four Blue Devils secured many awards for their singing skills during their PHS careers.
The final portion of the ceremony featured the presentation of diplomas and recognition of honor graduates. Students rose from their blue chairs on the stadium turf and walked near the track to pick up their diplomas from a small table. They then gave elbow bumps to PHS Principal Todd Halvorsen and Superintendent Dr. Richard Hasty instead of the traditional handshake.
Chappell, Rathman, Sabatka, Schroeder, Sedlak and Wiseman earned high honors for their academic work. All six students achieved cumulative 4.0 grade point averages at PHS. The classmates were inducted into the PHS Hall of Fame earlier this spring for their achievements.
School officials recognized 33 seniors as honor graduates. The Blue Devils earned this distinction by compiling cumulative grade point averages of 3.50-3.99.
Honor graduates included Caleb Anderson, Kaycee Bancroft, Kelsey Blinston, Alyssa Bock, Ryleigh Briggs, Jenna Clark, Chandler Cole, Joseph Cole, Makayla Cook, Ethan Copeland, Morgan Corns, Jackson Glup, Stockton Graham, Calix Grant-Ozuna, Kayla Harvey, Sydni Haugaard, Abigayl Henne, Easton Hoschar, Kaitlyn Konkler, Kobi Lamb, Caleb Laney, Kira Leget, Jeremiah Lubben, Emily Martin, Renae Mixan, Madison Nelson, Sydney Nelson, Isaac Peterson, Wesley Phillipson, Andrew Rathman, Sarah Schreiber, Hunter Smith and Regan Warrick.