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Grads cherish one last moment

At the start of the fourth quarter of the school year, Wrenshall English teacher Joel Swanson drew a 13-foot line on the classroom whiteboard, representing the lives of this year's seniors from

kindergarten through senior year.

Both Wrenshall valedictorians Jack Riley and Lexis Swanson spoke about it in their commencement speeches Friday afternoon.

"He marked out the last three inches of that 13 feet - the time we had remaining as students here. He told us not to take those three inches for granted," said Lexis. "When I look back at my time at Wrenshall, I think those three inches will be my favorite."

Wrenshall was the first of four Carlton County schools to hold graduation ceremonies Friday - followed by Cloquet, Carlton and Barnum - with Esko and Fond du Lac commencements this Friday and Moose Lake on Saturday. Cromwell kick-started all the pomp and circumstance on May 17.

At the Cloquet graduation, senior class president Edward Stone welcomed his classmates and guests into the standing room only gymnasium. Stone shared various nuggets of advice with his classmates, translating each into inspirational graduation speak.

Of Alexa Shepherd's quote, "Reach for the moon, and you may hit one of Jupiter's moons," he said: "Set your goals high."

And of his brother's basketball advice - "Miss high, not low. It looks better to hit the backboard than to airball it," - he translated: "If you're going to try something new, and say yes to opportunity, then you're going to have to reach farther than you think."

There was plenty of advice shared by graduation speakers, oodles of thanks, tearful goodbyes, funny stories and at least one on-stage selfie, by Carlton valedictorian Megan Matarelli, who also asked for a moment of silence to honor Emma Loven, their

classmate who died in January 2017.

Graduation is the end of an era for students and their families.

"We are at the end of our 13 feet," Wrenshall's Lexis Swanson said. "I ask you to cherish this moment, the last time we may spend at this school. And cherish every moment you have after this, because you don't know when your tape measure will run out."

"Congratulations, Class of 2024," Stone said. "I will see you all on the moon."

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