After all the pleasantries were shared and speeches were delivered, 716 names were called recognizing the acknowledgements of Champlin Park High School’s (CPHS) newest graduates Sunday, June 2. Nearly 6,000 family members and friends filled the Mariucci Arena to cheer on the graduates as they received their diplomas, closing the book on one chapter of their lives and opening another.
CPHS Principal Michael George presided over the commencement and offered his remarks which set a tone for the evening.
“You are the story this evening,” George said. “This is about your story and the choices you made to get you to this evening; the choice to invest in your future. This is a testament to a series of investments you made.”
He pointed out that in order to make it to graduation night students often had to make choices such as homework versus friends or Facebook, choices to respect school staff and the community, choices to invest in leadership roles, school activities and providing support for one another.
Superintendent Dennis Carlsen added that Anoka-Hennepin School District will graduate more than 3,000 students this year.
“More than any other district in the history of the state,” he said.
Also speaking at graduation were students Gabrielle Ockuly and Tucker Lorentzen. They were chosen in the annual graduation orator contest as the class speakers.
Ockuly, whose father teaches at CPHS, reminisced about various details from the class’ four years at the school. Jokingly apologizing to her math teacher, she said, ultimately they learned a lot of life lessons that had nothing to do with quadratic equations.
“Everyone is a result of a beautiful, unique, intricate story,” Ockuly said. “Listen to each other’s stories.”
She said the people and her memories at CPHS have left fingerprints on her life as they have done to each of the students graduating that evening.
Lorentzen opened his remarks stating, “we aren’t as different as we may seem.”
He said the class had learned to accept each other and to tolerate their differences.
“Champlin Park High School wasn’t a place we attended but a place we belonged,” Lorentzen said. “We left our mark. This moment, it belongs to us. Go Rebels!”
Richie Thammavongsa provided the invocation while Stephen Johnson and Steve Lyons directed the band throughout the evening. Choir directors Margaret Sabin and Laura Tempel led the senior choir in their final performance as CPHS students, “Sing” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
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