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Class of 2009 shoves off

Caps flew skyward after school officials presented the class of 2009.1 / 4
Graduates were in good spirits Friday as the Red Wing High School commencement ceremony got underway.2 / 4
Hundreds came to watch graduates receive their diplomas.3 / 4
Red Wing High School graduates share a laugh Friday during commencement speaker Chad Bray's address.4 / 4

It all came down to Friday.

Handshakes abounded, tassels turned and caps flew.

It was the class of 2009's day in the sun. Which came with plenty of advice and encouragement.

"High school might be over," Red Wing School Board Chairman Mitch Boldt said, "but learning takes a lifetime."

Red Wing High School conferred 224 graduates at the hour-and-a-half ceremony. This year's crop of "scholars, leaders and warm-hearted, caring individuals" collected nearly $700,000 in scholarships, Principal Beth Borgen told the crowd.

High school math teacher Chad Bray delivered the commencement address. He challenged the graduates to become leaders as they move on in life.

"Can it be you who leads us during those challenging times? Yes," he said. " ... The question I have for you is, 'Will it be you?'"

In a break from tradition, high school officials allowed three students to make farewell speeches: Melissa Kohner, Camryn Nelson and Erin Aadalen. There are typically two farewell speeches.

Kohner's was entitled "Are We There Yet?"

"I am proud to say, class of 2009, we are there," she said.

Nelson encouraged classmates to mold their own futures, reminding them "nothing is set in stone."

"The phrase 'You can't' is just a challenge," Nelson said.

Aadalen's speech was called "RWHS Forever."

"I'm proud to be your classmate and I'm proud to be class of 2009," she said.