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Well-Prepared for a Rapidly Changing World

Recently, I watched a family video of our four-year-old chasing fireflies through the summer evening air. It started with curiosity. She would look into the darkness for that flicker of light — an indicator of direction. When she saw one, she’d run that way, but the light would inevitably dissolve. She would continue in the direction she was headed with faith and perseverance until the next flicker of light. At times she lost the light; at times, she needed encouragement to not give up. Yet, she stayed with it until she ultimately was successful in placing that little light in a jar to observe and wonder. 

Our students have had a similar journey over the past few years. They would catch a glimpse of light only to lose it and adjust. Yet, they persevered and continued on. Teachers, parents, and community members encouraged them. They may have had to alter their direction slightly, but eventually, they found the next light. And for our seniors, last Friday night, there they were, light in hand at graduation. A bright future ahead.

The 346 graduates in the Class of 2022 had a most unique high school experience—a typical freshmen year, but sophomore year was disrupted by the pandemic and distance learning. Junior year they were in a hybrid learning model. And senior year, brought back in-person every day — occasionally interrupted by covid quarantines. With no consistent system from one year to the next, they learned to manage change, adjust and adapt. 

The world we live in, and the technology driving it, has been accelerated by the pandemic. The future now demands people who can learn and relearn quickly; who can work collaboratively, take initiative, and keep moving forward. As I think about the talent of the Class of 2022, I am confident they know three important rules for success in a rapidly changing world:

  1. Follow your curiosity and keep learning.

  2. Lean into the hard work and maintain faith.

  3. Find your champions. 

We all need a network of champions cheering us on, keeping us accountable, and infusing energy to persist through tough times. This class knows, perhaps more than any other, that we are truly better together. In the future, when challenges arise, they will be curious to learn, to persist and to succeed.

To illustrate the point, let’s look at some of their accomplishments.

  • Collectively, this class has earned 216 scholarships for a total of $220,750 through the Cambridge-Isanti Dollars for Scholars program.

  • They have accumulated 1,530 college credits through College in the Schools. 

  • 19 students earned college credits through Saint Cloud Technical College as part of the Vocational Welding program. 

  • Combined these college credits and scholarships will save our 2022 graduates and their families almost a million dollars in college tuition. That is making the most of your high school years. 

This graduating class has demonstrated its exceptional adaptability and achievement in too many ways to fully list, but here are a few more highlights:

  • 7 students in this class have earned a 4.0 cumulative G.P.A. and share the title of Valedictorian.

  • 8 AP Scholars took four or more Advanced Placement courses and at least one college course while in high school.

  • 44 seniors graduated with Honors and a 3.33 or better cumulative GPA and 54 seniors earned Honors with Distinction with a 3.67 or better cumulative GPA.

  • 27 seniors were inducted into the National Honor Society for demonstrating scholarship, character, and service. 

  • Chase Imker earned the designation of National Merit Semi-finalist, and Kasey Catton and Nicole Knudson were National Merit Commended students — receiving high scores on the PSAT and SAT assessments. 

  • 36 seniors anchored our Bluejacket High School Band this year— performing for live audiences, marching in parades over the summer, and performing at sporting events.

  • 9 Seniors were selected for the Mississippi 8 Honor Choir Based on leadership skills and musical ability. 

  • 11 graduates will soon be taking a military oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States:  Konrad Aki, Zajra Grant, David Hodgkins, Blake Miska, Cooper Nuebel, Elrick Breeding, Adrianne De Leon, Seth Olson, Dominick Thoreson, Katie Wallin, and Bridget Westerlund. 

Many of our seniors excelled as Bluejackets in afterschool activities:

  • Our athletic teams won Academic Silver and Gold Awards for cumulative academic excellence and team grade point averages.

  • 6 teams captured Conference Championships: Math League, Girls Tennis, Boys Hockey, Boys Track and Field,  Boys and Girls Trap Shooting and One-Act Play.

  • At State, senior James Chapman took third place for our Adapted Bowling Team.

  • Mock Trial and the One-Act Play captured Sectional titles, and at State, Mock Trial took seventh with Natalie Randal being earning All-State honors. 

  • Our One-Act Play was awarded a Starred Performance (equal to a state championship) for the first time in school history. 

  • Makayla Aumer was Minnesota’s Athena Award Winner (another Bluejacket first) for excellence in athletics and leadership among all Minnesota female athletes.

  • In Art, seniors Rushina Meinke, Jolina Isaacson, and Jesse Coplin all received Superior ratings at the Mississippi 8 Visual Arts Festival this year.

  • Making an impact at a national level, Abigail Bettendorf won a gold award at the National Leadership Conference for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, and Reid Stevens and Marilyn Malnar were national award winners at the Model United Nations Conference.

Each of our graduates has unique gifts and talents that contribute to our greater community. 

Behind the camera Ethan Stauffer, after taking a video production class as a sophomore, researched and implemented many improvements to our studio and Livestream systems so our arts and athletics events this year could be seen by family and friends across the country.

Just last week, I visited our auto shop at CIHS and watched Cole Remmeling, Triston Schultz, and Riley Albrecht fire up a truck engine that they built from junk parts. On the same visit, I was treated to the aromas of our culinary students, who were mastering amazing dishes — while other Bluejacket seniors were showing their tremendous aptitude in chemistry through an acid-based titration lab. 

Despite setbacks and challenges, this class has found a path to preserve and excel. Over the last four years, they have learned lessons far beyond those written in the curriculum. They learned that opportunities are sometimes disguised as challenges and that life is not always fair. That events beyond one’s control often force you to rethink your plans. And relationships — having others in your corner — can really help. With each challenge and opportunity, they responded the Bluejacket Way— with compassion, self-discipline, honesty, responsibility, and respect.

The Class of 2022 is resilient and adaptable, caring and empathetic. They are thoughtful problem solvers. We are so proud of this graduating class. They are leaders.

Thank you for supporting our students and our schools. You, too, can be proud of these outstanding Bluejackets!

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