High school journey
comes to close

Students, families celebrate on commencement night

BY Tom Fenton

The long, sometimes enduring process of working their way toward high school graduation culminated when about 275 Sauk Rapids-Rice students crossed the stage and accepted their diplomas May 30 at St. Cloud State University’s Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud.

Family and friends gathered in the spacious and pleasantly cool confines of the facility that houses Husky hockey to celebrate – sometimes boisterously despite a request to not do so – their respective loved ones’ accomplishments.

The students were addressed by class valedictorian Grace Roesch and salutatorian Alex Janorschke. SRRHS businesses and marketing instructor Kayla Kahl also addressed the class of 2023, melding elements of things important in her life – such as photography, travel, her wedding and tie-dye – into how the students can better their lives.

SRRHS assistant principal Steve Wagner read the speech from principal Sandy Logrono, who was unable to attend.

Roesch, the daughter of John and Julie Roesch, will play basketball for St. Cloud State University a few hundred feet from where she addressed her classmates. She played tennis, basketball and was involved in student council while volunteering with blood and food drives.

“We did it,” she said. “Getting to know, share memories with and grow up with you all has been a great pleasure of my life. As I thought about writing this speech, I remembered the letters we wrote many years ago to our future selves. We were all asked what do you want to be when you grow up? I remembered seeing answers of scientists, astronauts and even rock stars. I wanted to be a professional basketball player, but as I grew up, my goals became more realistic.”

Roesch said that by changing that question to “Who do you want to be when you grow up?,” the question takes on new meaning.

“This new question allows us to frame our future qualities, the lessons we have learned and the way that we want to be remembered rather than our achievements and accomplishments,” Roesch said. “The most important memories were those with my classmates and creating extraordinary moments on ordinary days. When I think about SRR, I remember the school dances, losing my voice at games and the delicious doughnuts at student council meetings.”

Janorschke, who will attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and major in physics, said academic success was only a small part of what made school special.

“I stand here for one reason – success. I got good grades, did well on tests and generally worked harder than most people were willing to,” said Janorschke, who will join the University of Minnesota marching band. “But I argue I am no more successful than anyone else here. I earned a specific kind of success, which was academic success. But in my mind, that isn’t the only kind of success. I believe there is academic success, extracurricular success and social success, which is the bonds you build with friends and family.”

The high school concert band provided pre-ceremony music and also played a song entitled “Choose Joy.” The concert choir performed “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

Students and their families celebrated outside the main entrance to the National Hockey Center, posing for pictures and sharing seemingly endless embraces, before boarding buses back to SRRHS for an all-night party.