After COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in connection to the increase in vaccinations across the state, Pine River-Backus High School was able to plan a more traditional ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, June 4, when friends and family will gather in the school's Performance Gym to congratulate this year's nearly 60 seniors.

More people will now be able to gather for the graduates. Masks will be encouraged, but not required. The graduating class chose not to continue with a parade leading into the ceremony, as was done last year when graduation was a drive-in service.

At a recent school board meeting, High School Principal Chris Halverson said the ceremony will likely be laid out differently due to the absence of risers for students to stand on.

Instead, graduates will be seated in front of the audience facing the podium, similar to how other schools lay out their graduating classes.

Besides that change, most of the school's graduation traditions will be maintained. Valedictorians are Rylie Hirschey and Olivia Adkins, with Hanna Milham as class salutatorian.

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There will be a Grad Blast celebration for the graduates at The Warehouse and the Holiday Inn water park.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.