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  • Albert Lea Tribune

    ‘We all have a purpose here on this earth’: Albert Lea High School graduates class of 2024

    By Sarah Stultz,


    Family, friends, teachers and others witnessed the graduation of Albert Lea High School’s class of 2024 Friday night at Jim Gustafson Field.

    According to the commencement program, there were 181 students listed as graduates.

    Students were encouraged to always put forth their best effort as they go out into the world and to remember they can make a difference in the world around them by the two selected student speakers.

    Erin Boorsma, the first of two student speakers, shared the story of a boy named Ping from the book “The Empty Pot.” In the story, the Chinese emperor is getting old and needs a successor. He hands out a flower seed to each of the children, and whoever can grow the best flower in a year’s time from the seeds will be named the successor.

    Ping had a special knack for growing flowers but no matter what he did, the seed would not even sprout.

    Time passed, and the day the emperor wanted the the youth to bring their flowers back arrives, and Ping returns in shame with an empty pot. He explains to the emperor that he planted the seed he was given but it would not grow. Meanwhile, the other children had “showstopping flowers.”

    In the end, none of the children should have been able to grow a flower from the seeds, which had been cooked ahead of time.

    Ping was ultimately named the successor because he had the courage to tell the truth and return without a flower.

    Boorsma said sometimes in life people may get handed a bad seed, and sometimes they may work and work at something that never grows, just like with Ping. But what’s most important, she said, is how people behave in spite of how they feel.

    She encouraged people to make their choices reflect their hopes and not their fears and to put forth their best effort.

    “You are stronger when you care for the week, you are richer when you help the impoverished and you are happier when you worry about yourself less,” Boorsma said. “When we go out into this world we will use the lessons we’ve learned from these schools, on these courts and in this community, and we will tend to our seeds with great care. I can’t wait to see all the flowers you’ll grow.”

    Jaylee Waters, the second student speaker, talked about the crucial role each person in the class has in the world, no matter what they choose to do next in their lives.

    “Every action, no matter how small, has the power to make a difference,” Waters said. “We all have a purpose here on this earth. It may not be as grand as others but it is no less important.”

    She encouraged her classmates to express gratitude to those who have helped get them this far, including friends, family and teachers.

    “We are not just the future, we are the present, and we have the power to shape a world that we are proud to be a part of,” Waters said.

    Superintendent Ron Wagner said the class was on the threshold of a new chapter and encouraged the students to carry forward with a commitment to excellence, to honor and embrace their differences as they navigate their future and to remember that learning is a lifelong journey. He said graduation is not the end of an education, but rather the beginning of personal growth.

    He asked them to be curious and have an open mind and to near stop striving to be the best versions of themselves.

    School board Chairwoman Kim Nelson also briefly addressed the students and wished them well in the next chapter of their lives. She said taking part in the graduation ceremony is one of the best parts of being a school board member.

    Students were congratulated by school board members, the superintendent and Principal Chris Dibble as they were called forward.

    The post ‘We all have a purpose here on this earth’: Albert Lea High School graduates class of 2024 appeared first on Albert Lea Tribune .

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