Levi Belew was one of the 19 students graduating on Saturday from East Butler High School in Brainard.
Although he described the day as bittersweet, he said the memories he will cherish most are of his fellow students, including three whom he has been in class with since kindergarten.
While 19 graduates is a slightly smaller size than the average senior class at East Butler, their influence on each other was undoubtedly large.
"It's exciting, a little sad though," he said. "I'm going to miss this place. I'm also looking forward to starting college and just a new beginning. There are so many memories. I've been going to school since kindergarten with three of my classmates. Being able to grow with them and see them grow as people. I don't think there's really even a way to describe us. It's just a great group of kids."
The three classmates Belew referenced were Elizabeth Benes, Corden Novotny and Madison Helman.
Belew said he plans on attending the College of the Ozarks in Missouri.
Principal Michael Eldridge said the class was full of leaders that set good examples for future students.
"There is a lot of positive leadership within the class," he said. "We saw a lot more active members on our student council from this class. A lot of positive leadership, I think, summarizes them in a nutshell."
Valedictorian Miranda Spatz said she was excited to be at the finish line of her high school career.
"I'm just really happy and feel really accomplished," she said. "I'm glad that all of our work has paid off. I'll just think back about all of our teachers and how great they were. I'll miss seeing my friends every day. We're really close and really fun. We all work together really well."
Spatz said she plans on attending the College of St. Mary's in Omaha.
Eldridge said that this Tiger class set the achievement bar pretty high for underclassmen rising through the East Butler ranks.
"I think they set a good example of what it means to be an East Butler Tiger and showed a positive influence for our younger students," he said. "I think that's exactly the message they've sent today during the ceremony in the way they conducted themselves, but also throughout the school year, they really demonstrated positivity throughout the school."
Other graduating students at the ceremony were: Erin Barta, Elizabeth Benes, Roxanna Bergman, Kairlyn Hain, Cody Heise, Cristian Hofpar, Brooklyn Jones, Ethan Martin, Lucas Morgan, Morgan Osmera, Breckin Ratkovec, Colten Ratkovec, Salutatorian Jadyn Robley, Vittoria Ruffa and Whitney Spatz.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at email@example.com.