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Well Prepared for a Rapidly Changing World

Four years ago, the Class of 2023 entered Cambridge-Isanti High School with all the excitement, anticipation, and wonder of typical incoming freshmen. I remember their first day;  it was also my first school day as a new superintendent. I shared their excitement, curiosity, and a bit of awe for what the next four years would bring.

Little did we know what an A-typical high school experience they would have. But rather than focus on the disruption of the last four years, at graduation last week, I encouraged them to look back further.

Most of our seniors were born in 2004 - 2005: the same years that Facebook and YouTube were founded. In many ways, their lives (and ours) will forever be impacted by these and other newer technologies that rapidly disrupt and change our world.

Did you know it took Facebook less than 1 year to grow to one million users — so much faster than earlier media inventions like the radio or TV.  Technology is interesting. As it evolves, it accelerates. 

In 2010,  when this class entered Kindergarten, Instagram launched and took only 2.5 months to grow to one million users. Then, during their senior year, Chat GPT launched in November. It took only five days to reach one million users. Technology grows exponentially and can be disruptive.  

So, we might ask, how prepared are our new alumni for these changing times?

As I see it, they are better prepared than any generation before.

They have experienced one of the most disruptive periods in our history. They adapted, set goals, did the work, and they’ve succeeded! They are tech-savvy and well-prepared to thrive in a rapidly changing world. 

They are also Bluejackets — guided by the Bluejacket Way. They will continue to be influenced by our enduring Bluejacket values: honesty, respect, responsibility, self-discipline and compassion.

There is wide speculation about the skills that will be needed to succeed in the future. When you think about it — they will likely retire in 2073. The changes they will see over the next 50 years will be remarkable.

In schools, we are looking to the future and suggest there are three necessary skills, not always covered in textbooks.  

First, immerse yourself in learning. A diploma is a passport to more learning. And not just any learning— something that genuinely sparks one’s interest. Throughout life, we often encounter countless new challenges and opportunities. And acquiring new skills takes time and practice. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to upskill and reskill will be paramount. Stay curious and let today be the LEAST knowledgeable day of the rest of your life.

Second, build meaningful relationships. In a technologically connected world, it's easy to get caught up in superficial interactions. Yet, people are our greatest source of strength and support. Cherish the people in your life more than the things on your to-do list. Forge deep connections and establish enduring traditions. Meaningful relationships are an anchor in times of adversity and bring joy in moments of triumph. 

Finally, be intentional about slowing down and getting offline. It’s been said that the pace of change is outpacing our human ability to keep up. In an over-stimulated world, our brains (and our souls) need time to rest and recalibrate. Fresh air, fresh water, and physical movement are at the core of our physical and mental health. Treat personal energy like a bank. Investing in healthy behaviors, relationships, and learning are investments in yourself. Then you will be prepared to share and support others.

Over the last four years, our students have learned these lessons in ways far beyond those written in the curriculum. They have learned that opportunities are sometimes disguised as challenges. Technology can be used for good and evil. Events beyond your control might force you to rethink plans. Most importantly, we hope they have learned that strong relationships and having others in your corner can really help. 

In the future, when challenges arise, these graduates can be confident that they have what it takes to build relationships, learn, persist and succeed. To illustrate their abilities to adapt, stay grounded and succeed, let’s look at a few of their accomplishments. 

Class of 2023 Highlights

  • Earned 213 local scholarships for a total of $231,400 through the Cambridge-Isanti Dollars for Scholars program. 
  • Accumulated 1,698 college credits through College in the Schools. 
  • 49 students earned college credits through St. Cloud Tech’s Vocational Welding program. 
  • Combined, the college credits and scholarships will save our 2023 graduates and their families more than 1.7 million dollars in college tuition  – the most of any CIHS graduating class in recent history. 
  • 10 students in this class have earned a 4.0 cumulative G.P.A. and share the title of Valedictorian.
  • 100 seniors are graduating with Honors and a 3.33 or better cumulative GPA 
  • 54 seniors earned Honors with Distinction with a 3.67 or better cumulative GPA.
  • 23 AP Scholars took four or more Advanced Placement courses and at least one college course while in high school.
  • Thomas Moran was recognized by the College Board’s Rural and Small Town Recognition Program — receiving high scores on the PSAT and AP Exams. 
  • 32 seniors in this class were inducted into the National Honor Society for demonstrating scholarship, character, and service. 
  • 9 Seniors were selected for the Mississippi 8 Honor Choir.
  • Gracelyn Szynal (sha-nell) was named to the All-State Band
  • 12 students will enter the military to protect our country and defend the Constitution of the United States:  Edward Arett, Brady Bergman, Braden Engseth, Bryce Felton, Josh Jacob, John Jansen, Wyatt Kassa, Logan Kenmir, Shane Moore, Ami Spiess, Charlie Thayer, and Vang Lee Yang
  • MSHSL Silver and Gold Awards for Academic Excellence and TEAM cumulative grade point averages: Silver Awards went to Boys & Girls Swimming and Diving, One Act Play, Volleyball, Football, Wrestling. Team Gold Awards went to Boys & Girls Track and Field, Cross Country, Tennis and Golf; Girls Basketball, Girls Soccer, Softball, and Gymnastics
  • 3 teams captured Conference Championships: Boys Track and Field, Speech and One-Act Play. 
  • Speech and One-Act went on to win Sectional titles and advance to State.
  • At State, Evan Goebel, Tyler Gustafson, Brennan Blake, Ava Lowman and Leslie Bleess earned medals in Speech competition — the most in our school’s history. 
  • Competition One-Act Play qualified for state. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was anchored by Sydney Bailey, Evan Goebel and Logan Johnson, who also earned All-Conference honors. 
  • Evan Goebel wrote a short play that won top honors at the International Thespian Festival.
  • Tyler Gustafson and Evan Goebel wrote a full-length play performed by classmates locally earlier this month. 
  • In Wrestling, Treytin Byers earned a state medal. And STATE CHAMPION Kami Senlycki won the Girls Wrestling title after pinning her opponent in just 14 seconds in the final round of the state championship.
  • CIHS Mock Trial team qualified for state with standout performances by Sophia Masters, Thomas Moran, Elijah Olson, Blake Neubauer, and Kylie Venhuizen.
  • Emily Nystrom qualified for state in Girls Golf.
  • Evelyn Wiltrout, Anika Larson, Tyvion, Williams, Kobe, Blake Viesselman and Josh Foley competed at State in Track & Field. Three earned medals: Evelyn Wiltrout - 9th in Shot Put,
  • Tyvion Williams - 9th in the 400m, and Anika Larson - 2nd place in the 100m and 200m.
  • In Art, seniors Aviendha Faucher, Emma Scott, and Evelyn Wiltrout all received Superior ratings at the Mississippi 8 Visual Arts Festival this year.
  • Welders Broc Miller, Jonah Cole, Bart Merkouris, and Abby LaNore captured medals in the Skills USA regional welding competition.
  • CIhS Adapted Bowling State Qualifiers were Jake Leight and Kaylie Lofgren.
  • FCCLA co-presidents Emma Scott and Lindsey Weidendorf both earned silver medals at State and advanced to the National Leadership Conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. 
  • Culinary student and entrepreneur Lauren Schreder took the Best Knife Skills title at the Minnesota State ProStart Invitational. 
  • Ava Lowman earned the Minnesota State Triple A award — distinguishing herself as the top well-rounded female senior in the state — academically, athletically and in the arts.

We could go on and on with individual accomplishments. This is an outstanding senior class. We can’t wait to follow these outstanding seniors on the next leg of their journey! Always a Bluejacket. Go Big Blue!

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