Class of 2011: Thunder seniors showed compassion, strength

by Nathan Warner
Contributing writer
“If you were looking for the standard of compassion and strength, I think you’d have to see this graduating class,” English teacher Amy Onstad said about the nearly 160 seniors of Zimmerman High School. “This past year has been such a challenge for them and really for the whole town since Bubba’s death.”
Glen “Bubba” Bye was killed in a car accident Aug. 4, 2010, at the age of 17 and left behind a school struggling to cope with the frailty of life, as seniors started their last year without him.
Tragedy of this scale hadn’t struck the town since exactly nine years prior to the day, when another Zimmerman student, Jacob Van Hoever, also was killed in a car accident.
Onstad said Bubba’s death could have remained a low point all year long, but the students didn’t let their sorrow seep into the year once it began.
Principal Marco Voce agrees. “The class as a whole impressed me in the way they came together to support each other in August with the death of a classmate,” he said. Voce stressed that the seniors have a lot of character and are a great group of kids who are going to make Zimmerman even prouder of them than it already is.
Amy Onstad couldn’t agree more. “This is a class that just enjoys life because they’ve seen how precious and fragile it is. They are determined to live and experience life to the fullest,” she said, adding that they are incredibly determined to plan their futures carefully and succeed in their dreams. She hopes the camaraderie and close kinship in the school continues into next year. “Normally you have a strong hierarchy in high school,” she said, “but this year, everyone came together and I think a lot of juniors are going to be sorry to see the seniors go.”
“Incredibly competitive,” is how Onstad describes her seniors, adding that they throw themselves into everything with determination and energy.
She said her debate class is particularly energizing, but that the most energized point of the year for the whole school was the boys’ basketball team’s victory against the Watertown-Mayer Royals on March 18 at St. Cloud State University, making it the first state team qualifier from Zimmerman. Watching the students in the stands flood the court after the win was particularly fulfilling for her.
“Its all kind of crazy,” Lynk Downing, a graduating senior, said. “High school went by so fast, but we accomplished a lot.” He said the school struggled this year with Bubba’s death, but they’ve all retained a positive outlook about things. He’s not too keen on leaving all his friends behind but looks forward to the Air Force ROTC program at North Dakota State University, where he plans to become an aerospace engineer.
Next year, Voce hopes to continue improving opportunities at the school for students, including implementing more technology. “I want to do everything I can to encourage another senior class of strong, positive leaders like we’ve had this year,” he said.
The graduation ceremony will take place at Zimmerman High School’s gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1.

Zimmerman High School

Senior class  enrollment:
157

Commencement exercises
When: 7 p.m., Wed, June 1 (Tickets required, however, supplemental seating will be available)
Where: ZHS gym at 25900 4th St. W., Zimmerman

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