‘Too many memories to count’

24 Lena High School seniors celebrate commencement
Warren Bluhm

The year that this year’s Lena High School graduates entered kindergarten “was an amazing year,” Superintendent Ben Pytleski told the group at their May 24 graduation ceremony.

“The Hunger Games was still a book,” Pytleski said. “We finally found Osama bin Laden, and the Super Bowl champions were the Green Bay Packers.”

The 24 seniors were joined in spirit by one of their classmates, Kyle Hodkiewicz, who died of leukemia at the age of 10. Kyle was named honorary captain of the football team for this year’s homecoming game.

Pytleski urged them to “remember all the positive things Kyle died in his 10 years of life” and be inspired by his memory.

“You’ve been put on this Earth for a very important reason. It’s essential that you find both your passion and your purpose,” he said.

Valedictorian Reed Hosking told his classmates they were a special group.

“We didn’t let any day go to waste, and we have stuck together through it all,” Hosking said. “I wouldn’t want to be walking across the stage with any other class besides you guys.”

Hosking thanked the school staff, especially FFA and Roberta Windus, for teaching him how to be a leader and to persevere.

“You always remembered that there is always a reason for all things that happen in life, he said, and he went through a series of “fast facts” recounting specific memories for each of the years they spent together.

“It feels like only two days ago I was in kindergarten,” Hosking said. “This year I have too many memories to count.”

“Tonight is your commencement ceremony,” Pytleski said. “To commence means to begin. It’s not the end of your journey.”