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Small, tight-knit class gradutes from Hiawatha

Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 11:34 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 23, 2014 11:45 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Ryan Gaines for Shaw Media)
Hiawatha Salutatorian Michael Mercado addresses his classmates and audience during graduation ceremony Friday night at Hiawatha High School in Kirkland.

KIRKLAND – Bianca Garcia considers the 2014 Kirkland seniors to be the “most loving class” that’s graduating this year, because of the love her classmates show each other.

“We’ve been together so long, especially with our extracurriculars,” said Dawn Failla. “I think we spend more time here together than we do at home. This is our family.”

Hiawatha High School saw 43 students graduate Friday evening, and many students hugged as they entered the gymnasium. Some even performed unique handshakes before standing in front of their teachers, families and friends.

Garcia said although the class is small, they have remained close for 12 years. Hiawatha graduates will be joining the military, attending colleges in different states and taking their own paths, but they say they will keep in touch, as always.

“We’ve been together since kindergarten,” said Lizzie Sechrest. “But we always have Facebook and FaceTime. And I’m pretty sure I have every [classmate’s] phone number.”

Madison Lovell said the class of 2014 has overcome many obstacles, but they have done so together.

“There have been times we haven’t gotten along,” Lovell said, “but there have been times we have all been brothers and sisters.”

Michael Mercado used his salutatorian speech as an opportunity to talk football, comparing his four years to four quarters of the game.

“By the time the fourth quarter rolls around, you’re pretty exhausted,” Mercado said. “Most of the game is behind you, and you have to put in the last effort with the hope you can come out with a victory. When it’s over, you look back and wonder how the last four quarters ended so quickly.”

Mercado said in past graduation speeches, it seemed people, including himself, were “excited to finally escape Hiawatha” and would say how “boring and lame Kirkland is.” 

“I feel the complete opposite now,” Mercado said. “I will never have as much fun as I did the last four years. Even though we have our whole lives ahead of us, our own personal stories about our high school days will be our favorites to tell.”

Valedictorian Hannah Haak said now is time to “do something frightening and take a leap into the unknown world ahead.”

“You have the game in your hands and you just have to choose what you want to do with it,” Mercado said.

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