By Justin Dahlheimer, First National Bank of Osakis president

I stumbled across an old yearbook (or “annual” as the wiser generations call it) while I was organizing some things recently. Reading the comments from my classmates who signed my yearbook gave me a picture into what my life was like during that year.

“You’ve been loud-mouthed and full of comments all year, but I enjoyed them. Have a good summer.”

“Thanks for all the math answers, they came in handy. Anyway, I hope you had a good year and that you have an awesome summer.”

“Never change a single thing about yourself! Keep on being the most hilarious person I’ve ever met!”

Somethings change — hairstyles, fashion trends, and sport uniforms. Others do not — the smiles I get from remembering the intent behind all of those comments, the feeling of accomplishment from the results of our extracurriculars, inspiration from a photo of those teachers, coaches, and staff members that had such a huge impact on my life.

For those graduating in 2020, I want to leave you a yearbook message, since you were deprived of that moment.

“Hey, I hope you read this and are doing all the fantastic things I know you are capable of. I enjoyed watching you grow up these past years. I am proud of how you have represented our school and our community with your accomplishments, positive attitude, and sense of humor. Your mark is left all over this place. In your hardest of times, I hope you have a great memory that brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye. I know you’ve given me many of those, and I appreciate it. Don’t be a stranger, I’d like to see you soon so I can hear all about the adventures you’ve had, the people you’ve met, and the things you are doing. I wish we could have had a normal goodbye, but for now, let’s just say see you later.”

The silver lining in these last two months is the perspective we have gained. We simply yearn to be together again. Whether that is at recess, practice, class, or lunch—the content of our conversations take a distant 2nd place to joy we feel being in the same place at the same time celebrating everything from the smallest daily moments to the once-in-a-lifetime milestones.

I look forward to following this years’ graduates through their future endeavors—I know that greatness is on their horizons. In the past, the greatest generations were those who went through a period of struggle in their formative years. Times like these build a resolve that will be there to improve and advance our society. That is what our graduates will do. I know it. I cannot wait to be a part of it. We will remember the class of 2020 as the class that reminded us to never take anything for granted. The class that had to figure out new ways to get work done, support each other, and stay unified.

Congratulations on your graduation. Whether that is kindergarten or a degree you have been working towards for many years, I know this years’ celebrations are different, and it is important that your hard work is recognized. Thank you for your hard work, I am so proud of you."

Justin Dahlheimer –Class of 02’

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.