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Largest class in school history graduates from Hudson High

Members of Hudson High School’s class of 2014 toss their mortarboards into the air at the conclusion the commencement program Saturday night. The class of 2014, with 417 graduates, is the largest in the school’s 133-year history. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Randy Hanson)1 / 7
Graduates enter the gymnasium for Saturday night’s commencement program. From front to back are Austin Graf, Lance Grambow, Elizabeth Gray, Curtis Guhl, Taarna Gutze, Miguel Gutierrez and Robert Hackworthy.2 / 7
Social studies teacher Matthew Friedl speaks to the 2014 graduates of Hudson High School at the commencement program Saturday night in the school’s east gymnasium. Seated on the platform, from left, are teacher Steve Sollom, Principal Peggy Shoemaker (partially hidden), District Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten, and school board members Jamie Johnson, Brian Bell and Lynn Robson. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Randy Hanson)3 / 7
2014 Class President Charlie Johnson enters the commencement ceremony with flair, followed by valedictorian Nate Bennett.4 / 7
Honor student Brian Lucksinger reaches out to shake hands with Principal Peggy Shoemaker before receiving his diploma.5 / 7
Mallory Maline expresses her joy over receiving her high school diploma. The daughter of Bob and Heather Maline is headed to UW-Madison to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.6 / 7
Members of the class of 2014 listen to parting comments by Principal Peggy Shoemaker. She encouraged them to have grit. “Grit is sticking with your future day-in and day-out, not just a week or for a month, but for years,” Shoemaker said.7 / 7

The 133rd commencement for Hudson High School was moved inside the school’s east gymnasium because of rain showers that lingered through much of the day on Saturday.

The class of 2014, the largest in school history with 417 members, spread across most of the gym floor, limiting the audience of family members to the bleachers on each side.

An overflow audience watched the ceremony on a video screen in the auditorium.

Despite the close quarters in comparison to Newton Field, the program came off without a hitch, producing much jubilation for the graduates now ready for the next chapter in their lives.

A student Commencement Band directed by Nicholas Syman played “Flourish for Wind Band” by Ralph Vaughn-Williams for a prelude and the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar as the graduates filed into the gymnasium.

The band, seated on the far end of the gym floor from the stage, also played the national anthem to open the program.

District Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten gave the welcome.

“Tonight, we honor each of you and celebrate who you are, and your accomplishments in elementary, middle school and high school years,” she told the class of 2014.

Bowen-Eggebraaten noted that 296 of the class members (71 percent) attended Hudson schools from kindergarten on up.

She recognized parents, school staff members and school board members for the roles they played in the graduates’ success.

Principal Peggy Shoemaker, in her first year at the high school, said she first met many of the graduates when she was the principal at Houlton Elementary School.

“I feel enormous pride in all of you,” she said.

Shoemaker encouraged the graduates to have grit.

“It’s having passion and perseverance to achieve long-term goals,” she said. “Grit is sticking with your future day-in and day-out, not just for a week or for a month, but for years … Grit is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.”

Valedictorian Nate Bennett advised his classmates to set high goals.

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark,” he said, quoting the Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Bennett called attention to the class of 2014’s successes in athletics and remembered teachers who had influenced him -- Mr. Amann, Mr. Kocmoud, Ms. McLaughlin, Mr. Haase and Coach Uchytil.

In closing, he quoted the words from Jesus, “Let you light shine before others so that they may see your good works and glorify you father in heaven.”

“Class of 2014, we have the gifts and the potential to make a better world. I challenge each one of you today to aim high, make your mark, and make beautiful music along the way that will be heard for generation,” Bennett said.

Senior Class President Charlie Johnson gave a humorous, rhyming speech, recalling classmates, teachers and events.

“Don’t let your life suck,” he advised his fellow graduates, encouraging them to be themselves and open to new experiences.

Social studies teacher Matthew Friedl also reminisced about the class of 2014 and talked about his unfamiliarity with cutting-edge social media that they are so adept at using.

“Live a little and laugh a lot,” he told the class.

The choir members in the class of 2014 joined members of the Chamber Choir for their final song as high school students, “How Can I Keep From Singing” by Taylor Scott Davis. Andrew Haase directed the choir.

Principal Shoemaker presented the class and School Board President Jamie Johnson said he was proud to accept it.

School Board Vice President Brian Bell and School Board Treasurer Lynn Robson assisted Johnson in presenting the diplomas to individual graduates as they crossed the stage.

When all of the graduates had returned to their seats with their diplomas, they broke into a singing and dancing performance of “Go Bananas.”

They tossed their graduation caps into the air at the conclusion of the program.

The band played “Washington Post” by John Phillip Sousa for the recessional.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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