Rangers graduate

Leslie Silverman

The 100th commencement of the Hill City High School class took place at Mount Rushmore this weekend.

The event celebrated 34 students, 12 of whom were Regents diplomas recipients.

Superintendent of the Hill City School District Blake Gardner addressed the students.

“Not only did you survive this crazy year — you thrived,” Gardner said. “You created memories and left a lasting legacy on our district for your academic, athletic, musical and theatre accomplishments. You helped us become the number one ranked school in South Dakota.”

Salutatorian Trace Houser spoke about the “diversity of careers” the Hill City High School class of 2021 will embark on.

“In the end these future careers are not set in stone and I don't want to give you the impression that they are,” Houser said. “They can change with new passions, opportunities and discoveries. But I wanted to impart on you, as Kenneth Dino said, ‘There are no guarantees or crystal balls for the future and no absolute way for you to know if you are or aren’t making the right decision but give tomorrow the best possible chance you can.’”

Houser went on to recognize the four teachers who will leave the classroom.

“I wanted to say a last thank you to Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Ronish, Mr. Raga and Mr. Christian for everything you have taught me and other students,” Houser said.

Houser ended his speech reminding his classmates that “life is about change. Just as many of our teachers are moving on, so are we, and I know all of us have a bright future ahead of us.”

Valedictorian Jada Bell found it difficult to “sum up all of the obstacles” her classmates had overcome to reach this pinnacle.

“All of us are incredibly different,” she said.

Bell described her classmates as “intelligent and tenacious” before advising them that, “life may get difficult at times and we may feel overcome with worry and uncertainty but to my fellow graduates I want to say, you indeed are ready to face those challenges that are foolish enough to face you.”

Perhaps no other speaker summed up the kindness and warmth of the 2021 Hill City High School graduating class more than English teacher Bryon Christian.

“Someone once said the people you work with are, when you get down to it, your very best friends and we’ve spent a lot of time together,” he said. “They are a special bunch as I’ve often told them in class. You are my people and I love you guys.”

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