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Dustin Monke

Monke: Graduation a day of celebration, relief and dreams

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Today, hundreds of area high school seniors will don gowns and mortarboards with tassels, walk across a stage and receive the diploma they've worked toward for 13 years.

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It's a day of celebration and relief for many students as they officially end their high school days and set off for either college, a trade school or the working world.

In my seven years working at The Dickinson Press, I had the pleasure of meeting several of the area's youth through my prior experiences as sports editor.

This year's senior class was going into the sixth grade when I first began to meet them.

My, how time flies.

During my first week at The Dickinson Press in the July 2006, I met a young man named Austin Mack who was going into his last year at Roosevelt Elementary.

The story then was on how Mack had qualified for the Hershey's National Track and Field Games.

Mack graduates from Dickinson High School this afternoon and has continued to make a name for himself in athletics. He was named West Region boys soccer player of the year last fall and finished his track career with multiple place finishes at the state meet despite being hampered by a knee injury as a junior. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Mack is an excellent student and peer leader who has participated in numerous extracurricular activities.

He, like many of his classmates whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the past seven years, seem destined for big things.

Take Andi Lefor for example. The Trinity academic standout and subject of a story on the cover of today's Accent page, has designs on completing her undergraduate degree in two years after getting a head start while still in high school. She plans to major in communications at the University of Mary and then head to law school.

DHS senior Amber Braun may win the award for most inspiring graduate this year. In 2009, Braun lost the use of her legs and almost all use of her arms when her spinal cord was crushed in a car accident. Nonetheless, she has lived as normal of a life as possible.

Though Braun had to give up many of the things high school students enjoy because of the accident, she still found ways to have the same memorable high school experiences other teenagers enjoy, such as attending prom and Close Up. You can read more about her story on today's Accent page as well.

Every year, a new group of graduates heads off into the "real world," as we call it. Today, they will receive multiple well wishes, gifts and cards with congratulations and words of advice from family and friends.

The best advice I can give all graduates -- besides staying in college, if you plan to go, for no more than five years -- is to remain grounded, remember where you came from and pick yourself back up quickly when you fall. Humility and perseverance may be two of the most underrated attributes in our society today and your generation -- which I'll admit spills over into mine -- has the chance to begin changing that.

With that said, I offer all of you a congratulations and wish you the best of luck. It's a wild world out there and full of surprises. Take them as they come and enjoy the ride.

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at dmonke@thedickinsonpress.com or tweet him at monkebusiness.

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Dustin Monke
Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He has been a key member of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, as well as the Press' Sweepstakes win in 2013. As the newspaper's editor, he writes a Sunday column, contributes feature stories, designs pages and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff.
(701) 456-1205
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