Once last obstacle at graduation

There was much getting in the way of the Klamath Union class of 2022.

Months missed of school, transitioning to school online and having a difficult two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uncertainty again came at the start of this year, and throughout the year, questions kept creeping back if schools might be closed once more.

All while, the seniors still had to face the rigors of their final year of high school, and had SAT’s, college and university applications, senior projects, final exams, essays, studying and preparation to worry about.

During the Klamath Union High School 2022 graduation, KU Principal Tony Swan dug deep into the school’s archives and found something he thought he could share with his senior for the final time.

“They are now, hopefully, the last class of seniors to graduate in an active health pandemic. Ironically, our KU Pelicans share a similarity with a local graduated class from 1922,” Swan said. “That year, the students of Klamath County High School, prior to KU being established, also faced a pandemic, and they too faced a school closure of 12 weeks when they were freshman during the Spanish flu.”

According to the 1922 Klamath County High School yearbook, the seniors wrote words this year’s seniors surely felt and expressed the past two years.

“The flu deprived us of many activities. The war also had its depressing effect, but we survived perfectly and I am sure that one can relate to this now a hundred years later,” Swan said.

Klamath Union’s class of 2022 will have students going to college in California and Arizona, six graduates will be in the military and seven graduates will directly enter the work force locally and throughout the United States.

Valedictorians and salutatorians

Through all the obstacles, the KU class of 2022 had one more hurdle.

Students had their graduation rehearsal at Modoc Field this past Friday, thinking they would graduate in the middle of the football field. Gloomy and unpredictable weather changed their plans.

Furthermore, the school’s co-president and valedictorian, Linnea


, was unable to attend her graduation after she became ill during the weekend.

Gebauer gave her speech virtually and shared a message from her eighth-grade yearbook and a message from her former teacher, Mr. Glidden.

“Keep up the great work and start taking notes for your valedictorian speech in four years,” Gebauer  said.

Gebauer admitted her speech was written a night before it was due, without any notes to guide her just as her former middle school teacher recommended, but credited her friends, family and teachers for their help to motivate her through school.

Carson Joyner, Stephen Maurer, Scott Neupert, Cassidy Mahan, Lahna DeGroot and Juan Perez were valedictorians alongside Gebauer , while Dean Garlitz was the school’s salutatorian.

Joyner stressed the importance of moving forward and quoted former President John F. Kennedy.

“Change is the law of life and those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future,” Joyner said.

Neupert encouraged the crowd after he was honest in his stress of writing his speech.

Neupert said Swan asked him to rewrite his speech because he knew it was not the best speech he could write. Through what his esteemed principal told him about his effort, he made into the focal point of his speech.

“I think we have all been there, doing what was just expected but having a family member there to help you. It can be incredibly easy to do nothing and let life pass you by,” Neupert said. “So, I insist, find people who want you to succeed and who are there to help you reach your full potential. Help them become who you know they can be.”

Perez finished the list of valedictorian speeches adequately.

“You could be flying solo, part of a group that will build a family, maybe even a family of your own, all of that is a puzzle you belong to … a puzzle of people you need and have puzzles you need to be a part of. That puzzle, is missing a piece, that wonderful last piece that makes everything complete. That missing piece is you,” Perez said. “The way you interact with the other pieces in the puzzle, can set you for a wonderful life; tie the rest of the pieces together and turn that puzzle into a beautiful piece of art. I know it sounds a little scary but life does not wait for us. Let us show the world what we are made of. Show some caring.”