Class of '24 leaves a legacy at Park Rapids High, says salutatorian – Park Rapids Enterprise

The Park Rapids Area High School class of 2024 went out with a bang, with colored smoke, confetti and a few caps flying.


Dominick Gamache sports “2024” eyewear during his graduation walk, while shaking hands with school board member Andrea Morgan.

Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The school graduated 90 seniors during its 126th annual commencement Sunday afternoon, May 26 on the Panthers’ football field.

In her welcoming remarks, student body president Lizzie Seifert said, thanked the loved ones who attended the ceremony for supporting their students during the past 13 years.

“To the teachers, staff and community members who have continued to support us and wish for us to succeed, thank you,” she said. “I could not have asked for a better grade to graduate with, and I am ready to start this new chapter of our lives.

Co-valedictorian Amelia Bagstad reflected on the growth her classmates experienced together. “High school has not only equipped us with the knowledge and skills,” she said, “but it has also instilled in us the virtues of perseverance, resilience and empathy. These qualities will serve as our compass as we navigate the uncharted waters of the future.”

Despite only going to school in Park Rapids for the past four years, co-valedictorian Anna Eckmann recalled making countless memories with her classmates. “From the Zoom classes and four-day weeks of our freshman year to counting down the final milestones of our senior year, we went through it all together. And that’s how we made it through high school. We went through it together.”

Eckmann gratefully acknowledged the support systems that helped the Class of 2024 get to where they are today.

It was salutatorian Kilea Persons whose closing remarks put a line under the culture change that happened during her class’s time at Area High.


Salutatorian Kilea Persons reflects on the culture change that the Class of 2024 was part of during Park Rapids Area High School’s graduation on Sunday.

Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

“The legacy that we are leaving behind will not be forgotten,” said Persons. “A few years ago, we were finally granted the much-needed referendum, and with that, we knew many different changes would be happening. Not only would there be a new school, but we were told that we needed to help establish a new mentality and define what being a Park Rapids Panther is.

“Our class really took the idea of a new mindset and ran with it. Whether it was through athletics, academics or extracurriculars, we truly saw a change this year in what being a Park Rapids Panther looks, feels and acts like. In doing so, we paved the way for new students and just cracked the surface of what the future holds for this school.”

Class colors were orange and black. The class flower was an orange-tipped white carnation. The class motto, attributed to L. Thibault, was “The past is our heritage; the present, our responsibility; and the future, our challenge.”

Class officers were Jacob Lof, president, and Anna Eckmann, vice president. Graduates received empty diploma folders (for the time being) while Lof read off their names.

Piped-in musical selections throughout the ceremony included Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” Eric Whitacre’s “Glow” performed by the high school concert choir directed by Sarah Kaufenberg, and John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare.”

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.


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