Sunday afternoon saw 39 seniors graduating from Bishop Ryan High School in Minot and taking their first steps into adulthood and separate life paths.
The ceremony was kicked off by guest Dr. Leroy Huizenga, the chair of the theology department at the University of Mary in Bismarck, who gave a speech on what he believed to be the benefits the graduates will reap in life from a Catholic education and upbringing.
His words were underlined by a giant reproduction of the iconic painting Christ Pantocrator of Mt. Sinai looming over the auditorium at center stage with the Most Reverend David D. Kagan, the Bishop of Bismarck, seated just below.
BELOW: Graduating seniors listen to guest Dr. Leroy Huizenga, the chair of theology at the University of Mary in Bismarck, standing at the lectern at left, speak on the virtues and benefits of leading life with a Catholic education as a foundation.
The first students recognized were the co-valedictorians, Nora Rimatzki and Austin Eggl, and then the Salutatorian, Abigail Wilhelmi.
"We're here. Graduation. At times it seemed so distant, I wondered if it would ever come," Rimatzki said in her speech.
She had special thanks for specific teachers who inspired her and cracked some jokes lovingly in their direction that garnered laughter from the audience.
Students graduating with honors
Co-Valedictorians: Austin Eggl and Nora Rimatzki
Salutatorian: Abigail Wilhelmi
Honors students: Courtney Aarseth, Brieann Backes, Meagan Behm, Megan Brown, Macy Christianson, McKenna Finley, Braden Kalamaha, Jacob Magnuson, Alexandra Smith, and Hannah Thom
"We've been together through thick and thin, through bad haircuts and braces. But, despite it all, we're still here. I'm sure that as we move on and start a new chapter in our lives, some of us will miss high school," she said.
Eggl said that when he was asked to give a message that "I believe that message would be on discipline," and then recalled the things he had learned in high school that will stay with him.
History got his highest praise because he said he wants to pursue being a lawyer and the lessons his teachers taught him made him appreciate a society based on law.
Wilhelmi started her speech by comparing high school with a popsicle in a simile, saying that it gets harder and "you get a few more brainfreezes toward the end."
But she added that after making it through they all are better prepared to live their lives based on purpose.
"Today is our final day as high school students, the final day we will all spend together before we go on our separate journeys in life," she said. "God gives us grace and guidance for a reason, so we can become world creators with him. God gave each of us a special talent."
Similarly, Rimatzki had shared some words of encouragement to herself and the other young people setting off in their life's journey.
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young, but set an example," she said.