The Gretna High School Class of 2020 was honored Sunday with a virtual graduation ceremony.
Superintendent Rich Beran offered some words to graduates before presenting the commencement speaker.
“My first year as superintendent and your last year of high school will always be linked to each other,” Beran said. “And more memorable than any of us imagined.
“I want to wish all of you the best. I pray all your goals are met and your dreams come true. Take care and dream big.”
A speech by Aaron Graham — a Texas native who attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on a football scholarship, earning All-American honors in the classroom and on the field as co-captain of the college’s back-to-back championship team in 1994 and 1995 — preceded recognition of graduates.
Following his college career, Graham spent seven years playing in the National Football League.
Now a successful business owner, Graham lives in Ashland with his family and his son Baylen is a member of GHS’ graduating class.
“If I could go back to my graduation day in May of 1991 and I could somehow give my 18-year-old self and my fellow classmates a few pointers on what they could possibly expect in life after graduation, I think this is what I’d say,” Graham said.
He went on to advise students to take the time to learn what skills they possess that make them unique, encouraging them to seek out coaches and mentors.
“If there’s one thing I can assure you, it’s that life’s not going to go exactly as planned,” Graham said. “Right now you are living through unprecedented times. But unprecedented times are going to provide us with unprecedented opportunities.”
He said the key to navigating this is to maintain a flexible mindset.
“Attitude is everything,” he said. “I personally believe the only difference between whether or not you’re going to have a good day or a bad day is your attitude.”
Graham also offered advice on overcoming hardship, sharing some of his own experiences over the years.
“There will be times in your life when you simply can’t be expected to tackle the situation on your own,” he said. “That’s when you can count on your family, your friends and your community to be there to help you.”
Principal Todd Mueller congratulated the Class of 2020, stating that since families were watching from home, it was the first time in GHS history that staff would request no restrictions on noise when graduates’ names were called.
The ceremony was aired on Cox Cable on YURView Channel 13. A replay of the ceremony can be watched at YURView.com.
“Overall I thought it went really well,” Mueller said. “From what we’ve heard, people really liked being able to see where people were going (after graduation.) We’re looking to maybe incorporate that in future graduations.”
On Friday, district staff decided that a traditional prom in June will not be feasible. The Post Prom Committee is working to put together a virtual prom/post prom in June.
School staff remain hopeful that a traditional ceremony would be able to be held July 12.
Traditionally held in the Gretna High School gymnasium, this year’s ceremony was to move to the Ralston Arena.
A final decision on if the ceremony will be held is expected to be made June 15.