FLORENCE – The 2022 graduating class of Florence Junior / Senior High School gathered Friday alongside faculty members, teachers, and friends and family to celebrate their successful high school completion.
The Florence Junior / Senior High School gym was packed with jostling parents, siblings, and friends as the proud graduates, clad in blue and yellow, made their way inside to their seats. ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ played familiarly in the background as the crowd cheered.
The National Anthem was played by the Florence High School Band and the graduation formally began.
Principal Dan Melendrez then addressed the graduates with his opening comments. Melendrez was purposeful in his thanks to the board of education, school board, faculty, and family that successfully brought the graduates to where they stood Friday.
“I also want to take a brief moment of silence to acknowledge our fallen soldiers that have lost their lives while serving the greatest country in the world,” Melendrez said after going on to thank those who have served in the military. The gym was quiet, save for the hum of the overhead lights.
Melendrez went on to address the seniors, as the night was theirs. Having served his final year with the Florence-Penrose School District, Melendrez’s words came as a bittersweet acknowledgment of the seniors accomplishments, struggles, and victories. He was recently appointed as the new superintendent of the Genoa-Hugo School District near Limon.
“After everything you’ve been through the past few years, you are prepared to go into the adult world and chase your dreams,” Melendrez said.
Melendrez went on to cite the many obstacles that COVID introduced, the merging of the middle school and high schools into a single, collective body, and many others.
“You have embraced this,” he said proudly.
His every desire, whether it be success in the military, in a four-year university, or some other pursuit, was communicated to the beloved graduates of Florence Junior / Senior High School. Melendrez then introduced 2022’s Valedictorian, Brandon Boehm.
Boehm proudly addressed his fellow graduates with words of wisdom and encouragement for the future. Boehm, both an accomplished state-wrestling qualifier and academic scholar, kept his address short but was grateful both for the support of his class and the constant push to be better.
Principal Melendrez then introduced a choir duet of two seniors to sing to the crowd of gathered graduates and attendees. The two young ladies delivered a serenade of ‘Because I knew You’ that commemorated their successful graduation, as well as the wide-openness of the future.
Melendrez then introduced the 2022 commencement speaker, Warren G. Moody. Moody’s address to the graduates was a combination of humor and real-life experiences that encouraged the graduates to take what they had learned and bring those skills with them as they continue to grow.
The graduates then rose to be awarded their diplomas.
Afterward, Melendrez welcomed class president, Layla Stage, to the stage.
“Failure is not the opposite of success, it is success,” Stage said. “The class of 2022 has been very successful. This class is full of people who have failed and failed and failed again. This class is also full of winners – winners who took the failure, learned from their mistakes and came back stronger than ever. ”
The ring of adulthood echoed clearly in Stage’s comments, and the hope for the class of 2022 is strong.
“Here’s to the wins, and more importantly the failures, that got you this far and will take your far in life,” Stage said.
Stage then led the seniors in the commemorative changing of the tassel before Principal Melendrez led the tossing of the caps.
The world is wide open for the class of 2022.