Last Friday, the graduating class of 2018 celebrated the end of their journey together at Yellow Medicine East and their formal entry into adulthood. Amidst the pomp and circumstance of the day’s festivities, students reflected on their many experiences together. Laughter and happy tears were dispensed in equal measure as everyone shared in a collective sigh of relief to be done after 13 years of school.

For two students, the day was particularly special. Saraya Burgeson was honored as the valedictorian and Bryce Schmidt was honored as the salutatorian. Valedictorians and salutatorians are selected from among the graduating class based on their academic performance. It represents a prestigious recognition for years of dedication, perseverance, and outstanding performance.

Both students (who hail from Granite Falls) said they were honored to have been selected. Burgeson said that she was “happy to see my hard work pay off.” Schmidt echoed her remarks, and added that all of the attention “makes you more nervous for the speech at graduation.”

For Burgeson, the highlight of her time at YME was being involved in school activities with her best friends, who, she said, “make everything exciting!” Schmidt said that his time playing sports at YME created “fun and good memories that will last forever.”

Despite the exciting opportunities afforded by life after high school, it will nevertheless be hard for both students to leave. Both said they would miss seeing their friends every day most of all. It goes without saying that the YME hive will miss having the two around as well.

Still, both students expressed their optimism for the road ahead. Burgeson said that she will attend St. Cloud Technical and Community College where she plans on studying dental hygiene. Schmidt also plans on pursuing a post-secondary education, and will attend Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota. He will study welding technology.

Although Friday’s celebrations were focused on the graduating seniors, neither student could have made it there without the help of others. “I would like to thank my family, [YME Success Coach] Robin Henderson, YME, the community, and also my friends,” Schmidt said. Burgeson also gave a shout out to everybody who supported her along the way, saying, “I want to thank my teachers, family, and friends for helping to make me the person I am today.”