by Paul Rignell
Faculty and families gathered May 23 to honor the work and success of 46 graduating seniors from Spectrum High School, in Elk River, as the charter program for grades 6-12 winds down its seventh year.
Amid music from the school’s Chamber Choir and a video shown by seniors on the yearbook staff, class valedictorian Shelby Eden mixed humor with a message in an address to her classmates.
“High school can be a juggling act and is not always as easy as it looks,” she said. “High school provided us with many different times and challenges, like keeping cellphones and chip bags silent in class.”
Eden encouraged her fellow graduates to strive for further success, but in the right way. “I challenge you to find a career or dream you truly feel passionate about, and chase after it,” she said. “Do not take shortcuts in developing strong character.”
Faculty speaker and school choral conductor Marsha Kirkpatrick told the graduates they would need to keep pushing out of any “comfort zone” to keep growing, while the Spectrum community cheers for them at home.
“Know that we wish the very best for you, for we have a vested interest in you,” she said.
Kirkpatrick said there was a time in her life when she felt she could never do what the vocalists in her choirs have accomplished.
“I just loved to sing, but not in front of people, because I was shy and deathly afraid,” she said. “My heart would pound so loud that I was sure everyone else could hear it. … My comfort zone was not helping me find my dream, hope or desire.”
She added that she is proud to have broken through her walls.
“My greatest reward has come in teaching you and directing you,” she said.
Kirkpatrick concluded by telling graduates to approach each new challenge with a positive outlook.
“Attitude is everything,” she said. “Your attitude affects not only you, but everyone around you. You have to practice a good attitude, each and every day. It’s a choice.”
Students have made a choice along with their parents to join the Spectrum program, and the parents are required to give 20 volunteer hours per family toward the school’s success each year.
Some households give considerably more of their time, and one parent, Krisi Diekman, a mother of five, from Otsego, was honored at commencement with a Volunteer Recognition Award. Her son, Kalvin, was receiving a diploma.
Spectrum Executive Director Vanessta Spark said that as a volunteer, Krisi Diekman has been known for supporting and promoting many of the school’s athletic programs. More recently, as Spark discreetly shopped in an area store for a gift to give this special volunteer, she met Diekman who was buying supplies for the seniors’ graduation night party.
Diekman said her family is glad to have joined the Spectrum community.
“I believe in their vision that they have, with a good, multifaceted program,” she said. “The students learn a lot of good lessons here.”