Pandemic prompts school to forgo live graduation event in favor of online

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

The 153 members of the Zimmerman High School Class of 2020 weren’t able to have a conventional graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they did have a virtual ceremony. The event was prerecorded and aired online at 7 p.m. Friday, June 12.

Two students, Dayton Koehler and Jamison Ward, spoke as did Dave Hamlin, who was chosen by the class to be the staff speaker.

Hamlin told students they are closing the first chapter in their book of life. The second chapter is theirs to write, as they now have more freedom.

“Your choices play a large part in your book of life, so choose wisely,” he said.

Hamlin told them to write a story with no regrets.

“Use caution when necessary and good judgment to the best of your ability, but don’t be afraid to try. Some of your best stories come from taking a chance,” he said.

Dayton Koehler delivered a speech titled “Our Generation.” He said their generation has undoubtedly lived through the best era for entertainment, listened to the best music, saw the Vikings almost go to the Super Bowl and experienced countless fun, exciting and awkward moments while growing up.

But the Class of 2020 has also experienced hardship, including living through two stock market crashes, the threat of terrorism and a pandemic, to name a few.

“During our lifetime, we have experienced hardships that have undoubtedly made us stronger as a generation,” he said.

Due to these experiences, Koehler believes his generation can advance society and acceptance, technology and the welfare of all if they put their minds together.

Jamison Ward said he believes in working hard and loving what you do. He titled his speech “Your Place in the Universe Is What You Make It.”

He told his classmates to pursue their interests with enthusiasm and dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their fascinations, “remembering that you and your passions are an invaluable stitch within the vast, vibrant and variegated fabric of humanity’s quilt,” he said.

He told his classmates that their place in the universe is what they make it.

“Write your story with hard work. Write it with enthusiasm. But, most importantly, write it for your own enjoyment,” he said.

Teacher Jim Doran, who gave the welcome, wished the class well.

“To the Class of 2020, thank you for your perseverance and efforts as you finished your high school career in this very unusual way. Best of luck and much success to you in your future,” he said.

Principal Marco Voce presented the Class of 2020, sending them off into the world.

The ceremony may be viewed online at, along with photos and video of other graduation milestones including the June 3 graduation car parade held outside Zimmerman High School.

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