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The Class of 2021 says ‘thank you’

MARQUETTE — As the Class of 2021 graduates after a senior year like no other, they have countless people they’d like to thank for helping them reach this milestone.

Due to this, The Mining Journal embarked on a new project this spring to interview and film members of the Class of 2021 to find out who and what they are grateful for at the end of their high school journeys.

These messages of gratitude and thanks are voiced by the graduating seniors in a collection of 10 videos — one for each of the participating schools’ graduating class — that are now available online at www.miningjournal.net.

“We have an incredible group of seniors in our high schools,” Journal Publisher Ann Troutman said. “It was interesting and enlightening to see what they had to say. Parents of these students should be so proud.”

The videos — which include messages that run the gamut from heartwarming, to humorous, to inspirational — showcase hundreds of young people from the area who are graduating this spring.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have the opportunity to offer these videos to our readers,” Journal Managing Editor Bud Sargent said. “It’s just one good way we can help salute their accomplishments and wish them the best going forward.”

Some students use the videos to thank their friends or family members. Others say they are grateful for teachers, coaches and school employees who helped them throughout their high school journey. Some thank pets, some thank fictional characters, some thank their communities and some are grateful to themselves for making it to graduation after a challenging senior year.

While each student and message is unique, the Class of 2021 graduates are united by their resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges, organizers said.

Overall, the video project aims to honor these graduates while creating a historical record of these Upper Peninsula students who finished high school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The videos take a naturalistic approach to documenting the students’ messages, meaning that the goal was to realistically portray students as they were on a given day at school — rather than in a studio — with much of the filming completed in the classrooms, libraries and hallways of their schools, largely with natural light and sound.

Viewers might notice that some students are masked, while others are not. This decision was left solely to the discretion of each school’s administration. When school administrators consented to students removing masks during the filming, the choice to wear or remove the mask was left up to each participating student. The filming was done at a safe distance — many of these videos are cropped to make it appear that students were filmed at a closer range — by a masked and fully vaccinated Journal staffer. Visit www.miningjournal.net and look for the yellow “2021 Grad Videos” button, pictured with this article, on the right side of the website to view the videos.

Participating area high schools

Gwinn High School

Ishpeming High School

Marquette Alternative High School

Marquette Senior High School

Munising High School

Negaunee High School

Newberry High School

Republic-Michigamme Schools

Superior Central Schools

Westwood High School

Each graduating student who was in attendance on the scheduled filming date was given an opportunity to participate in the video. Students who participated appear in alphabetical order by last name in the videos. All graduates from each school are listed in the final credit roll for the video to honor the students who were not able to participate. Copies of the videos will be delivered to participating schools on USB flash drives.

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