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Optimism shines bright at graduation

Sunday June 5, 2016
By John F. Carlsted

seniors in the front row look a bit nervous as they get ready to go on stage.
(Photo: Kimm Anderson, kanderson@stcloud)
seniors in the front row look a bit nervous as they get ready to go on stage. (Photo: Kimm Anderson, [email protected])

Pessimism vs. optimism.

The evening of May 26, family members and friends were privileged to attend the Technical High School graduation exercises at the River's Edge Convention Center honoring some 300 members of the Tech Class of 2016.

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The next evening, some area residents attended a much different event at the Granite City Baptist Church. The invited messenger was Usama Dakdok, founder of a Florida anti-Islam ministry who has recently been getting his word out at various Central Minnesota communities.

My intent is to briefly describe my reaction to some events at the Tech graduation exercises as a contrast to the event at the Granite City Baptist Church as reported May 28 in the Times. (“Anti-Islam preacher draws crowd, protest.")

My motivation comes from the joy my wife and I experienced while witnessing our granddaughter receive her diploma, along with others sharing that same pride for their graduates.

The event took on added meaning for me as I witnessed the diversity within the class, along with the diversity represented within the program itself, the presenters, and the makeup of the multi-cultural audience.

By casually studying the names of the 300 graduates, I estimated at least 75 of them were Somali, with still others representing other minority groups. The diversity was everywhere, on stage and in the audience. The program included interpreters for two groups.

The young lady selected by the graduates to speak for them was Somali. She did a great job to the delight of all, both graduates and those of us in the audience. You could also not miss the diverse relationships shown by the snippets of fun times in the video presentation shown prior to the beginning of the formal program.

My final reaction was the feeling of pride and joy felt by all as we gathered together at this important event. Full inclusion was in the air, not fear and separation.

For me, it was diversity at its best – a diverse group coming together for a common purpose – celebrating the accomplishments of all of our special young people as they move on into lives of challenge, hope, service and fulfillment, within a more interconnected and diverse nation and world.

Their experiences at Tech will serve them well. I am sure others also left the event filled with confidence and hope.

Congratulations to the Tech administration and staff for a job well done.


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