‘The class of 2021 is unique’: Veterans Memorial Coliseum hosts graduation ceremonies for resilient ’21 class

MADISON, Wis. – The hundreds of graduating seniors from Monona Grove High School were able to celebrate without restrictions in front of family and friends at Veterans Memorial Coliseum Saturday.

Prior to capacity limits in Dane County dropping, the school had planned to hold commencements in Lake Mills.

For graduates, holding the ceremony locally under loosened guidelines meant spending the day the way they’d always hoped to.

It meant the world,” said Monona Grove graduate Lily Foster. “I was really worried that I was only going to be able to have two guests at my graduation. My sister’s my best friend, and I knew that had I only had two guests, I would have to bring my mom and my dad. Having her here means everything. It means the world that I get to have a ton of people here tonight.”

Foster and the rest of her classmates spent close to one year doing virtual school before returning to the classroom in March.

I feel like I had a true test of my character,” Foster said. “Virtual school was pretty tough. I got through it, and these last couple of months being at school has been a real mood lifter.”

This year and a half has had so many ups and downs for so many people – Same for them,” said Lily’s father Reed Foster. “To say it was all smooth and perfect, that’s not the reality. It was tough on a lot of families and a lot of students.”

Administrators say they’re hopeful the adversity has crafted students who are stronger and more resilient.

Class of 2021 is unique,” said Monona Grove Principal Mitch McGrath. “It’s unlike any other. I think when we look at the class of 2021, they’ve missed so many milestones that so many students have gone through. They’ve not only missed that, they’ve missed the daily routines that generally shape those formative years as students are coming of age.”

For Foster, the next step includes a move to Eau Claire, where she’ll pursue a degree in Communications from UW-Eau Claire.

I feel great. I’m ready to get going and be on my own, and be free I guess,” she said. “I’ve always felt really independent as a little kid growing up, so I’m ready to be an adult.”