BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Holy Trinity Catholic High School Principal Michael Sheering, chuckled just a bit when he presented the Class of 2020 on Sunday at the high school. It was August after all.
It’s safe to say it’s the latest graduation ceremony ever held at HTC, but 26 seniors were conferred as graduates in a well-spaced and masked up gymnasium – more evidence of a year wracked by a pandemic.
HTC retired math instructor Brad Kurtz gave the graduation address. Kurtz was a 30-year teacher at Holy Trinity and received a plaque as part of the Governor’s Scholar Recognition Program based on a nomination from Samantha Pothitakis, who was a 2020 Governor’s Scholar.
“Look forward to the future with confidence and be lifelong learners,” Kurtz said. “You’re never too old to learn – even at my edge.”
Kurtz told the seniors although they went through something unprecedented in losing part of the school year to the coronavirus, lessons were learned that will help define who they are. But realization of those lessons is critical in learning from them.
“Be independent thinkers. Don’t let others do your thinking. Analyze from various sources of information and make sound judgment. This is the mark of an educated person.”
Sheerin challenged the graduates to go beyond the traditional path of graduates, by looking at society and becoming an influence on the future.
“Class of 2020, more than ever… more than ever… we need you to change the world,” Sheerin said.
“We do know you’ll be remarkable, we do know you’ll be invincible, we do know that you will do magnificent things. And that’s thanks in part to your parents, your grandparents, your pastors, and to your teachers. but above all it’s thanks to you.”
Despite losing most of March and all of April and May, the students may have initially thought it was a blessing but that soon became a curse.
“At the beginning of the school pandemic, I know exactly where all you were at… ‘Yes! school is over’… but three weeks later you were wishing you were back with your classmates.”
Class Valedictorian Samantha Pothitakis said despite the plans of her and her classmates, they are still young and are in unfamiliar territory.
“I know most of think we have it all figured out. And we know exactly what to do, but in a much more real sense we have no idea what to do,” Pothitakis said.
“But confidence is key. Be bold, be vigilant. If something seems wrong seek help. If your facing a problem tackle it head on. Do not be scared or anxious.
“It’s time for new chapters. Time to make our goals achievable, and our dreams a reality.”