EVART -- Evart High School held its graduation ceremony at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 1, in the Evart High School parking lot.

Parents remained in their vehicles throughout the duration of the ceremony, as instructed by school officials as part of the COVID-19 safety protocols developed by the Senior Advisory Committee intended to keep everyone as safe as possible while still participating in the graduation ceremony.

Graduates, who were seated in front of the stage, were socially distanced and wore face coverings during the ceremony, many wearing blue and gold masks with the class of 2020 logo.

Evart High School Principal Jessica Kolenda introduced the class of 2020, saying, "The only difference between today and tomorrow is that, up to now, you have all shared the same experiences, but tomorrow you will all go different ways. Today we celebrate setting you free to make the most of those lessons you have learned. Be proud of your accomplishments. But most importantly, realize that you are in control of your future.

"As you participate in this commencement ceremony, know that we are here to celebrate you, and realize that, even though one chapter in your life is closing, those of us here today will always be here for you," she said.

Valedictorian, Austin Rueffer, told his classmates that life isn't about the hellos or goodbyes, but about every wonderful thing in between.

"It is about all our experiences together that caused our friendships to be filled with happy memories," he said. "Focus on the good things. This has been a roller coaster of a year, but we are together and sometimes that has to be enough.

"This is our story. This is our time to live. Look up to the sky and realize we are alive, and ready to move on to bigger and better things." he said.

Salutatorian, Sydney VanBuren, thanked her classmates, teachers and parents for all the support throughout their years in school, and said that despite the many things that were taken away from their Senior year because of COVID-19, they should always remember and cherish the friends they made and the goods times they had.

"This is a happy moment in your life, a moment shared by the teachers, staff and the board of education of Evart Public Schools, who join me in commending you and your graduates for a job well done," said EPS Superintendent Shirley Howard.