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Class of 2012 finds its strengths

Every graduating class has students who establish their own identity throughout high school.

Some will try to take advantage of everything there is to offer within the academics, arts and athletics. Jefferson High School principal Chad Duwenhoegger said many in the 2012 class at JHS have found what they like within those fields and have excelled at their specific craft.

"We have individuals who are very strong in their area," Duwenhoegger said. "It's a group of kids that over time, they have found their strengths and gifts and they are coming out, which is what you want kids to do. Find their strengths and their gifts and excel at it. That's what this group is doing."

Senior guidance counselor Carrie Urness said the majority of the 292 graduating seniors will carry those strengths onto college after graduation. Urness said on average, close to 65 percent of students attend a four-year college after high school and an additional 30 percent or so will pursue their education at a community or technical school. Like most classes, the fields they are choosing to pursue varies greatly with this group.

"There is kind of a range," Urness said. "You have nursing, education, medical fields, some engineering, some computer science. There is the range I guess we would see from other classes as well. They're pretty well rounded."

Finances are also playing a bigger role in college choice after high school. Urness said she tries to point kids in a direction where they won't come out of college drowning in debt. The cost of higher education seems to rise every year, and Urness said many graduates are starting to take notice.

"I think it comes from their parents a little more these last few years," she said. "I've noticed some students starting at a technical or community college, going over to Alexandria [Technical and Community College]. We're seeing more students go over there for their generals and maybe that wouldn't previously have happened. I would say I'm starting to see kids pay a little more attention to that piece of college."

No matter what angle the students pursue, both Duwenhoegger and Urness feel there are a lot of students in this class who will go on and accomplish big things.

"There are a lot of great kids here," Urness said. "I always have some really hard workers, so they can definitely move on and find a lot of success in college and beyond."

It will be a special day for the students at their graduation ceremony on Sunday as they put a close on this chapter of their lives. Duwenhoegger watched them grow up right before his eyes over the last five years. That's what he'll remember most about what he calls a quiet, humble, talented group of students.

"What I'll remember most is their growth," Duwenhoegger said. "It's been really great for me to see these kids find their strengths. I think as 7th and 8th graders, they are all trying to find out who they are. To watch them find out who they are and then excel at it has been good for me."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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