On June 3, a total of 530 seniors graduated from Hopkins High School. Due to the pandemic, some of the typical traditions looked different than past years, but the day was filled with all the excitement and joy that you would expect from any graduation.
To keep the crowd size down, graduation was divided into two ceremonies, one at 10 a.m. and another at 1 p.m. Both ceremonies were held at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, which was large enough to accommodate the audience size and allow for proper spacing.
Last year, Hopkins High School was not able to host an in-person graduation. Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, superintendent of Hopkins Public Schools, noted the significance of this in-person graduation in her speech to scholars and families.
“Personally, I find it ironic that your commencement coincides with society opening back up,” she said. “I see your graduation like the sun, emerging from the clouds, shining for each of you a bright way forward.”
Each ceremony was identical in format and live streamed on YouTube, allowing those who were not able to attend the ceremony, including out-of-town relatives, the ability to cheer on their graduates. There was no processional or live music, but “Pomp and Circumstance'' was played at the start of the program, performed by the Hopkins High School band in a pre-recorded format. The Hopkins High School choir, orchestra, and wind ensemble were also performed in a pre-recorded format. Seniors Maxwell Reed and Elliot Berman served as Master of Ceremonies. Paige Kahle and Linda Nyakundi were the scholar speakers.
Principal Crystal Ballard and Dr. Mhiripiri-Reed addressed families and graduating scholars. This was Ballard’s first graduation as principal of Hopkins High School. She acknowledged the difficulty of the dual pandemic of the past year and held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to COVID-19 and systemic racism.
“You took on a challenging school year without a roadmap,” she told students. “You have the spirit of warriors!”
Of the Hopkins 2021 graduating class, 217 scholars graduated with honors. Eighteen students graduated Summa Cum Laude (cumulative GPA of 4.0), 125 Magna Cum Laude (cumulative GPA of 3.75-3.99), and 74 Cum Laude (cumulative GPA of 3.5-3.74). A total of 37 scholars received Bilingual Seals. Seniors Samuel Dirkswager and Dominic Valentini were National Merit Finalists and John Bartholet, Stuart Fish, Sylvia Greenwood, Isabel Johnson, Violet Johnson, and Jack Ouyang were National Merit Commended students.
In her address, Mhiripiri-Reed highlighted that the class of 2021 scored in the top one percent for social awareness in a recent survey. The definition of social awareness in this survey is how well students can consider the perspectives of others and empathize with them. These skills are sought out by colleges, universities, the United States military, and even Fortune 500 companies who are looking for people who are not just smart and hard working, but also socially aware.
“Being psychologically open, recognizing and respecting difference, and demonstrating empathy for others as well as for difficult situations, these are all foundational traits that will enable you to easily navigate this world,” she said. “The world needs you.”
Presentation of the Flags
This year’s graduating class is made up of students from around the world. Each year, we celebrate their roots by incorporating their flag into the ceremony.
This year, the following countries were represented by the Presentation of the Flags:
The United States, Minnesota, Angola, Argentina, Belarus, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Oromia, Poland, Puerto Rico, Somalia, South Korea, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Ukraine, and Vietnam.