HOPKINS, Mo. — As if marking the end of a difficult school year, a loud storm arose during the North Nodaway graduation ceremony held Sunday in the Wren D. Peve Gymnasium. Seniors walked across a stage holding their diplomas, stood for photos and turned their tassels in a July ceremony postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ceremonial event with its speeches, presentation of flowers and class slideshow created by Business Teacher Emily Frueh provided a serene moment for family and friends to watch the seniors at the culmination of their K-12 careers punctuated by a thunderous storm raging outside.

Former North Nodaway Superintendent Jim Simmelink said he was glad he could return to introduce 2020 class Valedictorian Tyler Bix and Salutatorian Kandace Damgar.

Bix told his classmates that they cannot be afraid of change, “but must make the best out of it. … If you do this, nothing in the world will ever slow you down.”

Damgar told her class that their books are not over and, pausing occasionally to choke back her emotion, that the time has come to pass the pen forward.

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, new high school principal Roger Johnson told the crowd that the ceremony might look a bit different, but that he was happy to finally recognize the Class of 2020.

Graduates carried their diplomas from their chairs to walk across the stage and no handshakes were given. Photos were taken and a flower presentation was held where graduates presented white roses and hugged their friends and family members, few of which wore face coverings.

The seniors turned their tassels while facing the crowd, but no mortarboards flew through the air and no receiving line was held after the ceremony.

Some seniors took time for photographs with family and friends in the concession area, while others walked out into the rain and the rest of their lives.

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