Vogt's Notes: Handshakes and hugs for 2021 graduates

A health pandemic certainly taught us all how to improvise in many different situations. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.


I believe that word - improvise - is one of many that applies to the 2020-2021 school year for school administrators, teachers, staff, students and parents.

“Graduating” students include our area kindergartners who celebrate their first year of “real” school, fourth-graders who prepare for their upcoming move to middle school (which in Pequot Lakes and Nisswa is a whole new school building), and, of course, seniors who have traditional ceremonies to mark their graduation from high school.

Those graduates in 2020 spent the majority of their school year as usual. Then, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked their worlds and their last couple of months of school were far from normal with traditional celebrations canceled. Instead, those events were done virtually online, or as drive-thru and drive-in events in the case of Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus high school graduation ceremonies.

Our graduates in 2021 didn’t have just three months of chaos. Their entire school year was filled with times where everyone had to improvise on the fly. I’ve told more than one person that if this pandemic had occurred when my kids were still in school, I have no idea how my family would have coped.


So my admiration and kudos go out to all students, parents and school staff for jobs well done. You learned to improvise many times over, all for the good of children and their education.

While kindergarten and fourth-grade events at some area schools still weren’t “normal” this year, the timing for the end of COVID-19 restrictions couldn’t have been more perfect for graduating seniors at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus high schools.

Pequot Lakes administrators stuck with the plan to have graduation outside on the football field - a first in my years in the area - but were able to lift attendance restrictions. That meant so many more people were able to see the sea of graduates in their blue caps and gowns under a perfectly blue sky as they received their diplomas, complete with hugs and handshakes this year.

Pine River-Backus seniors get their turn this Friday, June 4, with a return to the traditional indoor ceremony in the school’s Performance Gym.

Besides moving graduation outdoors to the football field, Pequot Lakes kept a new tradition created last year - a parade where graduates rode around downtown. That - and much more - is proof that good can come from bad.

A health pandemic certainly taught us all how to improvise in many different situations. Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at


Nancy Vogt - Vogt's Notes.jpg
Nancy Vogt, PineandLakes Echo Journal Editor

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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