Letter: Congratulations to our 2020 graduates

Brandon Lunak

On Sunday, June 7, we celebrated the Moorhead High School graduating class of 2020, not at the high school, Minnesota State University Moorhead fieldhouse or Concordia auditorium. For the first time ever, graduates and their families watched graduation from the comfort of their own homes in a virtual ceremony that held many special moments and even a surprise ending.

As we all know, 2020 has not been a typical year. This senior class has had a senior experience unlike any other in history. We wanted to find a special way to honor their patience, tenacity and grit in the face of loss of milestone events, activities and shared senior memories. With extremely limited options to stay in compliance with the Minnesota Department of Education’s graduation guidance, we pulled a team of our most creative minds together to come up with a way to congratulate the Class of 2020 in a meaningful and memorable way. I believe this happened on Sunday.

The virtual plan the team pulled together involved the whole community. Prior to graduation day, video teams spent three days taping individual graduates walking across the stage in their caps and gowns as they came for the high school check out process. Band and choir directors worked creatively to record musical numbers in unique COVID 19 circumstances to provide music that was beautiful and moving. Valedictorian speakers worked diligently on their scripts and recorded their inspirational words to their classmates. Larry Knutson, the famous “Voice of the Spuds,” narrated sections and the ceremony ended, not only with a graduate invitation to throw their hats into the air, but with the drone footage of more than 400 balloons being released from the Jim Gotta stadium in celebration of the Class of 2020.

I am thankful to the many individuals and Moorhead organizations that came together to provide this special virtual ceremony for our students.

  • Spuds TV put in hundreds of hours of video and editing time.
  • Haney’s Photography photographed each graduate with their parents.
  • Moorhead Rotary Club helped direct students.
  • Orton’s Holiday Station and Muscatell Subaru donated the balloons for the surprise ending.
  • School board members were available for three solid days of video sessions.
  • Dave Lawrence and the Moorhead High administration team spent days pulling together a detailed plan.
  • The staff at MHS provided amazing logistical support to make the process fun and keep our students safe.

Finally, thank you to the Moorhead High School Class of 2020. You have persevered through a crazy senior year. Your resilience and positive outlook in the face of hardship will serve you well in the future. Congratulations! We wish you the best of success and trust that the foundation you received at Moorhead Area Public Schools will prepare you for great things ahead.
I have never been prouder to be a part of this supportive Spud community. It is a great day to be a SPUD!


Lunak is superintendent of Moorhead Public Schools.

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