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Lake Oswego and Lakeridge High School seniors received their diplomas and heartfelt send-off after an unprecedented school year.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Seniors throw their caps in the air during Lake Oswego High's graduation.The Lake Oswego School District held four graduation ceremonies this week — two for each school due to capacity limitations. Each ceremony saw graduates dressed for the occasions, parents happy to be sitting at the covered bleachers and speeches that highlighted the accomplishments of this unprecedented school year.

As mentioned in many of the speeches at Lakeridge and Lake Oswego High School, the class of 2021 is the only class to spend almost half of its high school experience online. And it was evident during the ceremonies that they didn't take being in-person one last time for granted.

After fears of an all-out cancellation, last year's graduating class got a "drive thru" ceremony. The class of 2021 was polled by each high school to determine what mode of ceremony the students would prefer and, given that they spent the majority of their senior year as tiles on a Zoom call, they chose a traditional sit-down ceremony.

The district had to split each high school into two events to accommodate state health guidelines. And what could have felt like a half-empty stadium event instead felt intimate and joyful. PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Senior Galilee Barnes gives principal Desiree Fisher a hug after receiving her diploma during Lakeridge High's graduation.

Lakeridge High School held its two ceremonies at the LHS stadium Thursday, June 3.

Associated Student Body President Luke Basso kicked off commencement with a speech about not taking time for granted. Senior Class President Zac Aghdaei spoke to the unique talents of his peers and said that it's those gifts that are going to make their community and world a better place.

Lakeridge Principal Desiree Fisher shared in her speech about how words shape who you and how you see the world around you. She encouraged her parting students to remember the word "home."

Before presenting the class to the Lake Oswego School Board, Assistant Superintendent (and incoming superintendent) Jennifer Schiele reminisced on welcoming the class of 2021 to Lakeridge High School four years ago when she was principal of the school.

"The ceremony was a refreshing sense of normalcy after an abnormal year. The school and community worked so hard to give the seniors an amazing sendoff, and it definitely paid off," senior Sara Shallenberger said.

Lake Oswego High School followed with it's dual ceremonies at the LOHS stadium Friday, June 4.

Senior class President George Danzeluad kicked off the ceremony with a speech thanking teachers and parents for all they did to get the class of 2021 where they are today.

Student speaker Annika Bernhardt gave a speech about being present in the moment, while student speaker Cameron Iizuka spoke about the unprecedented experiences of the class of 2021. She recalled living through a pandemic, wildfires, a historic election, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, February's ice storm and the ever-present climate crisis.

"Despite the assault on our daily existence for the past 500 days, we survived," she said.

Principal Rollin Dickinson, who will be resigning after this school year, gave his last speech to a graduating class at Lake Oswego High School.

In a speech that quoted Rumi, Lizzo, Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama and Melinda Gates, Dickinson encouraged the class of 2021 to continue their work in bending the world towards justice and peace, and to maintain their childlike curiosity towards the world as they grow.

"Ocean Vuong reminds us that in Vietnamese the word for missing someone and remembering them is the same. I like that. I have missed you, will miss you, and will remember you and our school in the brightest of ways. It has been a sweet honor to share space with all of you," Dickinson said. PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Graduates hug after the finish of Lake Oswego High's graduation ceremony Friday, June 4. PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tabitha Daniels poses for the camera during Lake Oswego High's graduation.  PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Zach Aghdaei and Jane Pearson get ready for the start of Lakeridge High's graduation.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Seniors listen to a performance during Lakeridge High's graduation. PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lakeridge faculty give graduates a send-off after the end of commencement.  PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Dockside Dollies perform 'And So It Goes' at Lake Oswego High's graduation.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Faculty and graduates high-five after Lake Oswego High's graduation.PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Parents cheer on their graduates at the Lakeridge High commencement.

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