We Stand Tall

We stand tall, was the message Julie Matta had for her classmates. South Tama County held an in person graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 28. While the 2020 graduation looked different from years past, members of the STC staff worked to overcome the adversity brought on by COVID-19 to provide a memorable event for graduates.

The ceremony was held at the STC Trojan Football Field. Graduates were socially distanced in the stands. Parents and family were seated on the football field. It was a unique view as graduates were face to face with their loved ones throughout the event.

The Class of 2020 has had the unique experience of being born the year of 9-11 and graduating the year of a global pandemic.

Matta spoke about the meaning of education and graduation as well as the change she and so many in Generation Z yearn for.

“Graduation is the passageway from adolescence to adulthood. It is a ceremony that leads us out, ending our careers as obligated students into adulthood. Our desires in life vary: some of us want to obtain a degree, others want to work, and for some, simply getting out of bed each morning is a day well done,” said Matta.

Matta spoke with wisdom beyond her years, possibly alluding to the unrest the country is currently experiencing on the heels of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Elijah McClain. “We will keep fighting for our right to speak up and speak out. Hope and dreams never cost us a thing and we will ensure that our future descendants will know that. Trust the process of change and have difficult conversations. We cannot rewrite history but we can forge our path to a new birth of freedom,” said Matta.

STC Valedictorian Makayla Backen also gave a speech, chronicling memories from elementary school including all the Christmas concerts, class parties and shadow day visits. She spoke of the nerves of entering high school. Backen had these words of wisdom to offer her classmates,

“Today we start our journey into adulthood. This can be scary, but it can also be a lot of fun. Don’t let life freak you out like you let high school freak you out the summer between 8th grade and freshman year. Life will be harder than high school, but it will be well worth the journey. We have learned a lot about life while growing up, and we will continue to learn. But it is important to not hang our heads when we are facing the obstacles life places in front of us. Stay true to yourself, know you are strong and capable of anything, and never give up on what you wish to see yourself accomplish. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings Class of 2020,” said Backen.

The faculty speaker was Emily Chyma. “So here is your silver lining: One of the most dangerous phrases is over now. “Please report to the principal’s office.” Ha– no I am kidding! I am talking about the phrase, “This is how we have always done things.” It is gone. You are at a crucial time in history where the world needs to change and it is ready for people like you to make those changes,” said Chyma

Following speeches the two Foreign Exchange students were recognized. Eliska Hermankova from Czech Republic was hosted by Barb and Kendall Jordan and Lorena Niederhauser from Switzerland was hosted by Molly and Joe Tafta. The two students had previously returned to their home countries due to the coronavirus. To maintain social distancing graduates stood as their name was called and held up their diploma.

Class 2020 Representatives included Callie Frakes, Javin Lasley, Julie Matta, Monserrat Nunez Arredondo, Kaitlyn Riha and Clarissa Rosenberger. Class sponsors included Nate Doran, Dixie Forcht, Jeff Funk, Daniel Kass, Dan Lopez, Miranda Moen, Katie Murphy, Jeff Niedermann, Dustin Peska and Audrey Roth. School board members who were present at the ceremony included Alan Kline and Ron Houghton others who were not in attendance include Penny Tyynismaa, Mandy Lekin and Clint Werner. The Class of 2020 selected three staff members who helped them as they progressed through school. They included Steve Bearden (STC Elementary), Scott Bolen (STC Middle School) and Michelle Bradley (STC High School).

The class motto was “Behind you, all your memories. Before you, all your dreams. Around you, all who love you. Within you, all you need.”

Class colors were columbia blue and black, the class flower was a white rose and class song was Sunday Best by Surfaces.