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Unprecedented academic achievement for Esko's class of 2022

With 100% of seniors graduating, 10 of Esko's 102 graduates were named as valedictorians.

Esko High School holds graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022
Graduates throw their mortarboards to the sky after graduation ceremonies at Esko High School on Friday, June 3, 2022.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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ESKO — Ten of Esko's graduating seniors were named valedictorians for 2022, during the district's graduation ceremony on Friday, June 3.

In his time at the school, principal Greg Hexum said he has seen at most four valedictorians in one year.

Hexum said he is proud of all the students, as it is the 16th consecutive year that 100% of seniors have graduated.

"There are lots of deserving kids," he said.

Hexum praised the students who got scholarships for their college education, including one who got a full ride to the University of Notre Dame, as well as a large group of students who have racked up college credit.

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In total, he said the class of 2022 has gotten 2,000 hours of college credit between them, with some graduates able to start college as sophomores.

"Way to go ladies and gentlemen," he said.

Monetarily, Hexum said this equates to $700,000 in savings for parents, which got a cheer from the crowd.

Esko High School holds graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022
The concert choir performs during graduation ceremonies at Esko High School on Friday, June 3, 2022.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

During his speech, Hexum lifted up a clear container of confiscated outfits, that the class of 2022 would wear when in attendance for school sporting events.

"One of the many things that I've learned from the class of 2022, is that you never show up to a big event at school without some outrageous outfit," he said.

He showed the packed gym a myriad of outfits from an Elvis costume, to a hula skirt, and high visibility jackets, but ultimately said he would stick to his suit.

"The Class of 2022 is known to wear prom dresses and suits to our home volleyball and basketball games," he said. "So hopefully that won't disappoint them too much."

Esko High School holds graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022
Principal Greg Hexum holds up items used by the Esko student section at sporting events while speaking to the class during graduation ceremonies at Esko High School on Friday, June 3, 2022.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

As some students are now moving across the country and world, Hexum said the "Esko Nation" is expanding its reach.

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"It's a great day to be an Eskomo," he said.

The student speakers during the ceremony took the chance to thank their families, teachers and fellow classmates during the evening.

Ethan Fredrickson gave his speech, which he titled "The Greatest Speech Ever Written," and shared some of his memories during his time at Esko.

"The title was easy ... but first I had to write the speech," he said.

While he said people likely won't remember his speech, they will remember their experiences at Esko.

"Everyone graduating here has had someone help them reach this point," he said. "No matter where we end up in the future, we will look back and remember the people who helped us along the way."

Michael Cornell shared some of his thoughts and advice for the rest of the graduating class.

Esko High School holds graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2022
Class speaker Michael Cornell delivers a senior speech during graduation ceremonies at Esko High School on Friday, June 3, 2022.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

"Tonight is a night for celebration and recognition of the hard work that has led us to right here," he said. "It is the single biggest goal that we have ever achieved and it marks a turning point in our lives."

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Cornell said that it is something scary to think about, as since he was in the sixth grade he would think about life after high school.

"For more than four years we have been working to get right here," he said. "So the question becomes, now what?"

Some of the graduates might have worries about the next step in their lives, worries that Cornell said he shares, from wondering if they are ready, how to make new friends or if the college classes have prepared them enough.

"Worst of all, some of us don't know how to iron their own clothing," he joked.

However, Cornell reminded his fellow graduates that their parents, teachers and coaches can attest for how much they have all grown.

"Next year isn't going to be easy," he said. "You're also allowed to take it one step at a time."

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Related Topics: ESKOESKO SCHOOLSEDUCATION
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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