Saturday, June 22nd, 2024 Church Directory
Students celebrate becoming graduates of BLHS by tossing thier caps in the air! (Patriot Photo by Don Bellach)
Erick Carlson delivers the commencement address. (Patriot Photo by Don Bellach)
Grace John gave the commencement welcome speech. (Patriot Photo by Don Bellach)

Congratulations, Big Lake Class of 2024!

Graduations mark time.  Friday, May 31, 2024 celebrated the 107th Commencement Ceremony for graduates of Big Lake High School.  The gymnasium was already filled to capacity with expectant parents, relatives and friends of the graduating students before the Big Lake High School Band, directed by Abbey Keister, began playing “Fanfare & Processional”.   The students entered in pairs to the slow, steady rhythm and sat in the center of the gymnasium clad in blue robes and caps and yellow sashes. 

Commencement Welcome

Grace John began her commencement welcome reflecting on the time that had passed for the 2024 graduating class. She reminisced, “We started this journey in the midst of COVID, when the future was unknown and isolation was the new normal, but we are ending this chapter of our lives united and have overcome the obstacles thrown our way.  We have spent the last 13 years together growing, learning, laughing, and creating friendships that we will remember forever.  These have been years of late nights, football games, dress up days, pep-fests, final exams, and of course homework.  These are all coming to an end tonight as we close this chapter of our lives and prepare for the next one.”

Commencement Address

Erick Carlson, in his commencement address had similar reflections and an eye to the future. 

“It goes without saying that we had fun times, made new relationships, and got involved in the obscure, high school drama surrounding us.  What this opportunity is, our education, is about believing in yourself, having a deep feeling that lies subconsciously, one that you can’t explain, but one that drives you to challenge yourself, steering you in a specific direction.  It’s about having the opportunity to discover what allows you to succeed, to stay strong, and to show selflessness.  Highest above everything, is the opportunity to be you.”

Keynote Speaker

The class of 2024 listened attentively.  To their fellow students, to the Big Lake High School combined choirs as they sang “Come Travel with Me”, directed by Brie Hawkins and accompanied by Sue Ferbuyt, and to keynote speaker Jennifer Fingarson, High School Counselor.

Fingarson gave this advice to the graduates, “Know that whatever you pursue in life will take effort.  Success is on the horizon.  Life will be full of successes, but also some struggles; assignments to master and possible failure.  Let’s be honest, you may fail.  However, as Mr. Dockendorf has said hundreds of times to hundreds of you and to hundreds of families over the years, “Failure is an event, not a person.” 

“If there’s a lesson learned after the experience, you will actually have gained from failure . . . In these circumstances, I highly suggest you find a helper.  When you have a question or need help or advice, there are people in your community who are willing to help you.”


The class of 2024 consisted of 228 graduates, 18 of which graduated as members of the National Honor Society.  Many students will share a total of $55,825 in scholarships given through local businesses and organizations.  They stood and were honored as well as those who have chosen to serve in our Armed Forces after graduation.    

Diplomas were handed out and Principle Bob Dockendorf stood before the class and directed them to move their tassels from the right to the left side of their hats.  Students celebrated by tossing them in the air.  They exited to the same “Fanfare and Processional” as they entered with.  But these students were not leaving as the same people who so recently entered the BLHS gymnasium.  They were leaving as something new - not students, but graduates of Big Lake High School.