Wisconsin Heights graduation ceremony 202: the speeches

Brooke Presny



Good evening Wisconsin Heights Class of 2020 graduates, staff, families, and friends. Welcome to the most unusual, yet most memorable graduation ceremony any class has ever had. I’d like to start out by thanking everyone who helped make this ceremony possible and for giving us the best possible graduation that could be held in these current conditions.  Every class has a story to tell, and oh man do we have a crazy one. 

What started off as a normal senior year got flipped upside down on March 13. We left that Friday afternoon not knowing it was going to be our last day of what we always knew as school at Wisconsin Heights. We left not getting to say a final goodbye to our classmates, teachers, staff members, teammates, coaches, and everyone else who made our high school experience what it is. We left not knowing what the rest of our senior year would look like. And even though we didn’t have the traditional end to our high school careers, it was still the most memorable senior year anyone could ever have. From the yard signs and banners, parading through both​ towns, and businesses displaying signs; the school and community support for our class won’t be forgotten and demonstrated how fortunate we are to have a community like Wisconsin Heights. Thank you. And Class of 2020​ here we are at the final stop of our high school career. No one ever would’ve guessed it would look like this, and that’s okay. We still made it.  

Throughout high school, we’ve all had to give presentations and speeches in front of our classmates at one point. I hoped all those assignments would’ve helped me in this situation, but talking to a bunch of cars is something that I’ve never had to do before. So, in order to prepare myself to give this speech, I watched the movie Cars​. Just like Lightning McQueen, we’ve had quite a few bumps in the road recently. Here’s a quote by Zig Ziglar I found to be very fitting. “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. The best is yet to come”.  

Regardless of all our individual paths we will take, there’s going to be times of uncertainty in the months to come. But while watching Cars​​, I picked up on a few things that our friends Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater can give us some advice with. The first is that just like race cars, we need to take a pit stop and refuel at times. The past few months we’ve got the chance to slow down and take life day by day. We had time to finish projects, go on walks, spend time with family, chase some sunsets, bake too many loaves of banana bread, and watch way too many Tik Toks. Having this extra time allows you to not rush through the events in your life, appreciate what is happening right then, and gives you motivation to work harder on whatever comes next.  

The second lesson I noticed was to use your creativity. The past few months we’ve had to adapt and change drastically. Everything from school, to going to the grocery store, and even this graduation ceremony have been nothing like they normally are. But, we have found ways to make it all work. By using creativity we are able to finish off our high school careers in a unique, yet socially distanced fashion. Who ever thought we’d be graduating on a baseball field?  

The final piece of advice I have is this. Don’t take what you have for granted because you never know when it will be gone. It’s crazy how much everything can change within a matter of days, weeks, and months. Don’t live life waiting for the big moments. The little ones are just as important too. Think of the little things we have missed; crowds cheering at a game, walking with friends through the hallways to class, the high fives and handshakes to competitors after sporting events, and seeing your friends and teachers in-person and not through a screen. Hopefully you’ll remember at least one of these things as we all go on to start the new chapter of our lives. 

I’m glad that we all got this one final chance to be together. As Tow Mater says, “I know’d you wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye!”. Class​ of 2020, it was a wild ride, and I’m glad to have done it with all of you. I wish you all the best of luck on your road ahead. Thank you! 


Miranda Keith



Hi everyone and thank you so much for coming to our graduation ceremony. Senior year did not finish the way any of us had imagined but I’m here to talk about the rest of my time spent at Wisconsin Heights High School.  

When people ask me where I’m from, I usually lead with “oh it’s a super small town. You probably wouldn’t know of it”and when I finally say Mazomanie, the person often cocks  their head and kind of looks at me like I just spoke in a different language. 

Then I say that it’s next to Black Earth and they usually go, “ohhhhhh the Shoe Box!”  

Being from a small town means you’re involved with everything the community has to offer. There’s always a football game or an infamous Vanguard volleyball game to go to, always a breakfast or luncheon to volunteer for in both communities. Because of always being involved in something in the community, I loved homecoming. It was my favorite time of the year because it was when the whole community came together to celebrate. I could swear everyone in both towns went to the football game and the parade. All of this has always been picture perfect to me. The powder puff game where two grades come together and use teamwork, riding on floats that each class decorated together, bonfires after the football game, the dance itself, I loved all of it. This year’s homecoming was when it hit me that not everyone is lucky enough to grow up with such a sense of community like we did.  

Growing up in a small town with such a sense of community has made me into the type of person that wants to always offer a helping hand and bring people together. When the flood hit Mazo and Black Earth, our class and many others in the community stepped up to help with the damages. Our small towns have shown me how to be unapologetically myself and to be proud in what I do. When I go to a new place, I never shy away from introducing myself to new people and being outgoing. When we went on the California trip, our class was very friendly and definitely didn’t shy away from talking to the people from all over the country when hiking or on the pier. I credit my hard working attitude and outgoing personality to our rural community’s culture. When you live in a small community like ours, you have to do a lot of things yourself because there are fewer people to help. For example in our high school, we have fewer students go 

out for sports than a larger school would, so the ones that do play will have to work harder to get the job done on the field or court. There is rarely an extra sub or player. I, as well as many of my classmates, are athletes and know that this has made us hard working and more dedicated than ever when given a task. These are the qualities I will take with me to college and forever use: teamwork from many seasons as a Heights athlete, dedication like we showed when our towns came together during the flood, and leadership skills we’ve picked up from watching the students before us shape our school and community. 

Our class has had one of the weirdest and most memorable senior years in history, but we have also built a firm foundation of constructive qualities, and as we move on to the next chapter of our lives, I know the class of 2020 will use these many different qualities to better the people and communities around us, wherever we may end up. 


Elizabeth Dostal



In this short Life that only lasts an hour How much - how little - is within our power. 


Tonight, we join together to mark the graduation of the Class of 2020. It is true that tonight’s ceremony is not typically what people envision when they think of a high school graduation.  Much has been said this Spring about what this class has lost – the springtime traditions of high school, the formal celebration of the ending of childhood.  Little has been said on what this class has gained.   

For in this Spring, these students had the opportunity to learn how much – and how little – is within their power.  And within that lesson lies a central understanding about life:  Within each of you is the ability to choose how you will respond to life. As Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning “Everything can be taken from you but the freedom  to choose your attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

Much has been made of the way things should have been or could have been or would have been if COVID 19 had not interfered with life.  Tonight, I ask you to set aside the should haves, the could haves and the would haves, for they are nothing more than a waste of emotional energy.  What lies before us is what exists and we have chosen how to respond to it – we celebrate in a different way tonight and mark this most important of moments in a memorable mix of old and new.  We chose how to respond to a situation outside of our control. 

And this will not be the only situation, graduates, where you can only control your response.  This is why I urge you to consider these words from philosopher Nietzsche: “She or he who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”  The person who has a reason to live for can bear with almost any circumstance.  Graduates, find the why for which you live.  Seek to live a meaningful life, a life with purpose.  Take the freedoms that you have and embrace them with responsibility.  For when dark days come, as they certainly do for all of us, it will be your why, your reason for which you live, that will guide you forward, that will allow you to bear any situation. 

Circumstances change, time moves on, traditions fall and society shifts.  But life, wonderful, chaotic, sorrowful and beautiful life, expects us to continue.  It is as Hamlet states: 


To be, or not to be, that is the question: 

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer 

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, 

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles 

And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep, 

No more; and by a sleep to say we end 

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks 

That flesh is heir to: ‘tis a consummation 

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; 

To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub: 

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, 

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause—there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life. 


Graduates, it is time for you to be, to experience all that is bright and dark, the joys and heart-aches of life well lived, the calamity of so long life.  And it is time to choose. Choose your attitude with all that life brings, choose your own way. 

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