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Big Lake sends seniors off with plenty of advice

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225 senior Hornets tossed their caps in the air at the conclusion of the 104th annual commencement ceremony on the evening of Friday, June 4. It was a time for celebration for the families of the young men and women ready to join the adult world. 

The ceremony took place in the stadium outside of the high school with the graduates taking their place in the bleachers while their families watched from the field. The 2021 graduates took the stage with music in the air while the sun began its descent. 

Senior Mia Huberty held the honor of giving the commencement address and spent her time reminiscing about her time spent at Big Lake and the memories she will take with her.

“I always thought that I would look forward to graduation because each year the seniors would talk about how excited they were and how ready they were to move on. But it feels a little different now that I’m standing in front of you today,” said Huberty. 

She talked about how all the different moments and experiences make up a mosaic of our lives and that they make us into who we are as a person. She spoke on her favorite memories, like when the entire school sang the song “Country Roads” during sophomore homecoming. 

“These are just some small pieces of my much larger mosaic. I hope to expand my mosaic even greater and not limit myself to these experiences… and hopefully it will all pay off some day and I’ll be the CEO of a company,” added Huberty. 

She went on to give her class some advice to never settle for “a mediocre mosaic” and to challenge them to meet as many new people as possible, try new things, and to travel, all to expand their mosaic. 

She finished her speech by saying, “go out there and have fun, be happy, and of course, expand your mosaic,” as the audience erupted in applause. 

Huberty’s speech was followed by the school choirs combining for a rendition of the song “See You Again.”

Assistant Principal Angela Charboneau-Folch took the stage next to give the closing remarks before the students received their diplomas. Her speech was about persevering through hardships and making the best you can out of whatever situations life throws your way.

“Success does not come without challenges. Your attitude shapes your outcome. Define your own limits,” said Charboneau-Folch. 

She discussed the challenges everybody had to face during the previous 14 months and how they were able to overcome them and the hard work finally paid off and they made it to their special day. 

Charboneau-Folch mentioned how difficult it was for her growing up sometimes due to hearing loss and the struggles her family faced in that regard, but that she and her family were persistent. They successfully navigated through those struggles and now Charboneau-Folch has been working in the Big Lake district for the last decade. 

Her message was a powerful one, “whatever obstacles may present themselves, and they will, that you too can overcome them. Don’t let others define you. Work hard. Grit is a defining characteristic.” 

It was not an easy road for her to navigate. She discussed her path and how she keeps a carbon copy of her discharge from special education from her youth and that she worked harder for that than any college diploma she currently has.

She has worked her way from social studies teacher to school administrator since she graduated from St. Thomas as a history major. Angela has spent the last 15 years as a principal, and this year she was named the 2021 Minnesota Assistant Principal of the Year. 

She didn’t mention that to brag or steal the spotlight from the 2021 graduates, but to drive her point home that no matter what happens, with some grit and determination, nothing can stop you. That she believes in “sliding door moments.” That when you make a choice everything in life changes. 

There is value in education. There is value in working hard and learning how to adapt and problem solve. Staying positive and looking for the good in things goes a long way. 

At the end of her speech, the assistant principal left her students with a last bit of advice, “instead of assuming, give the benefit of the doubt. Instead of judging others, give grace. Have integrity. Value knowledge. Be loyal. Appreciate the diversity around us. Forgive others and yourself. Be intentional with your time as there is no rewind button. So surround yourself with others that deserve your gifts and give long hugs to those that you love while you can.” 

To reiterate her words, your attitude means everything. She wanted her students to go with the knowledge that hard work and a positive attitude makes all the difference. 

“You all have a road in front of you. This road may not be smooth. It may have a pothole. It might have a speed bump. It may take a detour. And at times it may be under construction, but you do have a destination. Just look for the signs.” 

Good advice can come from anywhere, and Angela’s speech was full of a lot of good advice that her students will be able to take with them as they maneuver their personal roads to their destinations. 

After her speech Big Lake gave recognition to their top honors students and announced scholarships and acknowledged any military service from the students and anybody in the crowd. Then Principal Robert Dockendorf handed out the diplomas before concluding the ceremony. 

13 years ago these students arrived in Big Lake as children, but left the stage as 2021 high school graduates.

Reach Jeremy Lagos at


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