Bergen Kludt-Painter and Maddie Gilpin have some fun with the history of the PHS class of ’22 Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Petersburg High School celebrated the graduating class of 2022 Tuesday night before a full audience at the high school gym.

Jill Lenhard, one of the senior class advisors and featured speaker congratulated the class on completing high school with half of it impacted by the COVID pandemic. And she counseled the graduates to seek out help from their families and friends.

“I want you to identify a life saver who you can call on when times get tough because times will get tough,” Lenhard said. “That’s just the way life rolls and we all already know this right? And we also know this from all the literature we’ve read together. There is no story without conflict. And it’s the same in real life and in our own stories. So remember your life savers, these people who are here for you through thick and thin. There are a lot of them. Be kind to them. Listen to them. Find compromise with them when you need to but lean on your life savers.”

Graduates wrote and spoke about surviving remote learning and social distancing. Valedictorian Leiah Kittams urged her classmates not to forget the support of family and friends.

“I must say I am proud of who we have become,” Kittams said. “We’re here we’ve made it and we’re on to greater things. But in the process remember the identities we’ve formed at this place with these people.”

Salutatorian Rose Quitslund counseled her classmates to enjoy the moment.

“Although we have so much anticipation to rush off and begin the next chapter of our lives, myself included, let us not forget to cherish these last few moments together, to savor the moment, like the last bite of your favorite food, or the final note of your favorite song,” Quitslund said. “The future can wait because tonight is our one final chance to be present in this beautiful moment when the world stands still to look at us on this precipice between the past and the future.”

The class gift is a sign for the high school gym.

It was the first unrestricted graduation ceremony for the high school since 2019. COVID measures meant an outdoor parade and gathering in 2020. Last year was indoors but with some attendance limitations. One pandemic tradition that has survived is the vehicle parade. Operation graduation was at the Beachcomber this year where graduates watched a giant Viking funeral pyre burn and celebrated the night with a Burning Man theme.