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Looking ahead to a bright future

Dreary weather moved the festivities into the gymnasium, but gray skies couldn't dampen spirits Friday night for close to 200 Red Wing High School seniors participating in the school's 138th annual commencement exercise.

The crowd was all smiles -- and a few tears -- as parents, teachers and friends congratulated graduates with handshakes and hugs before the ceremony.

"We have done a lot of thinking and working to get to this point," said student Kristen Anderson in a farewell speech titled "Do What's Right."

"Be kind and respectful to people you meet," she said to her fellow classmates. "Take Minnesota nice with you."

Teacher Kraig Ulveling started his address by asking the graduates to give each other high-fives for their accomplishment. He urged take charge of their future through hard work and resilience.

"It's your future, and it's going to be your job to make it work," Ulveling said.

He imparted two bits of wisdom passed on from his father: "Treat people like you want to be treated, and good things happen to people who work hard."

"You're the reason I love this job," he said before ending his speech, to which the graduates responded with a standing ovation.

Grant Knott gave the second student speech, calling on his classmates to continue their education through life experiences.

"Each of us still has one class left to take: Life 101," Knott said. "The classroom isn't limited to one room or building; it's all around us."

"Luckily for all of us," he concluded, "life is a group project."