SPOKANE, Wash. — Family and friends of the Gonzaga Prep High School Class of 2021 filed into the school's football field on Sunday as the school held its first in-person graduation since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The graduation ceremony featured a very special speaker this year.
"Well, it went by super fast. It was a crazy four years. It was full of ups and downs, but in the end, all things considered, I'm satisfied with it," said valedictorian Andrew Nordhagen.
Nordhagen isn't just the valedictorian this year. He also achieved a perfect score on the ACT, an almost perfect score on the SAT, and is heading to Stanford to study Computer Science in the fall. On top of all of that, he also won the Bloomsday T-Shirt design contest this year.
All of this has been more than enough to make his parents proud.
"Oh my goodness, super proud," Ari Nordhagen, Andrew's mother, said. "Super proud of that boy. He's incredible, and we just, he's done everything despite this pandemic. He did everything to the best of his ability, and he just took this whole year in stride and he did everything."
Nordhagen used his speech to reflect on his class completing their final year of school during the pandemic.
"When I started writing this speech, one thing that kept coming back to me was the way we handled our senior year being flipped upside down," he said. "We only had a fraction of school year in person, we crammed all of our sports seasons into a couple of months, and on top of all of that, we weren't able to sit in the mezzanine at lunch.
He also highlighted the impressive feats of his classmates. The class has multiple future college athletes, graduates planning on joining the United State Military, and even the Lilac Festival Queen, all impressive feats for a class that had to deal with a tough year.
"It has been, without question, a far from perfect year," Nordhagen said.
After Nordhagen's speech, it was time for awards and diplomas. Then, it was the moment the class had been waiting for, as they threw their hats into the air as graduates of Gonzaga Prep High School.