“It is what it is.”

That phrase, attributed to President George W. Bush, was the class motto for the Waconia High School Class of 2021.

And their senior year was what it was – a strange pandemic year that forced students out of their normal routines and into new ways of learning.

Speakers at the May 30 commencement ceremony highlighted the challenges and the way students overcame them to reach graduation day, a day marked with both in-person attendance and virtually via live stream.

School Board Chair Dana Geller noted it was a school year where students learned new terms like quarantine and asynchronous learning, and also learned to “face the world more ready than perhaps any other class.”

Superintendent Pat Devine called the Class of 2021 “resilient, tolerant and flexible,” and thanked them for the way they “hurdled all the challenges.”

Student speaker Amara Jones-Myers asked classmates to “pause to see what resilience looks like…look in the mirror.”

“It is what is, so let’s be flexible” was what the class was all about, she added.

Speakers also joked that this year’s senior class was the first to spend more days out of the classroom than in it. Also, perhaps “the only class ever to be excited to return to the classroom from spring break.”

The Class of 2021 was also the first class to spend four years in the current high school, and some students nearly eight years in the same building, which previously had been the middle school.

Finally, it was the final graduating class for retiring Principal Mark Frederiksen, who said he “couldn’t have picked a better class to be graduating with.”

But he did take issue with the class motto.

“It is what it is reflects complacency, passiveness and submission, but this class showed us more determination than we thought possible,” Frederiksen said, while maintaining a “sense of humor and optimism.”

His final advice for students: “The journey is more important than the destination,” and for life: “It is what I make it.”

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