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Saxony Lutheran High School graduates 63 students

Saxony Lutheran High School’s graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 looked a little different than usual, due to COVID-19, with principal Mark Ruark noting that “never before has so much Germ-X been used in handing out diplomas.”

Attendance to the event was limited and the 63 graduates sat with their family throughout the ceremony. Each family was spread out in the Gerhard Birk Gymnasium to maximize the space between them, and the music was provided virtually by the SLHS band. The event was also live streamed on Facebook Live for those who could not attend.

“I am thrilled and honored that we were able to celebrate the Class of 2020 and these students were able to walk across the stage and receive the diploma they worked so hard for,” Ruark said.

The commencement address was given by Saxony science teacher Brenda Etzold and a class of 2020 address was given by graduate Megan Casasola.

Etzold made an acronym of COVID to give advice the graduates including commitment, opportunities to share the gospel, voices of faith, integrity and discipline. She also advised students to keep hope in their heart, keep a relationship with God and keep discipline in their lives.

In her speech, Casasola said this year will go down in history for all graduating classes of 2020, but the Saxony seniors will be remembered for more than just graduating during the a global pandemic. “We will leave our mark on history because we have accomplished many goals and have overcome several challenges throughout these four years,” Casasola said.

The Class of 2020 in Saxony Lutheran’s largest graduating class in the school’s 20-year history. The class had an average composite ACT score of 23.4, over three points higher than the state average and was one of the highest composite scores in the state of Missouri. In addition, 39 students earned a combined 427 college credits.

The class also had the highest percentage in the school’s history (83 percent) to receive college scholarships. In total, the scholarships earned by the class was over $1.4 million

The graduates will be spread out over 23 colleges, universities and technical schools. Four percent of the graduates will be entering the work force and one student (Clara Yokley) will be joining the U.S. Army.

During the ceremony, senior choir members were able to perform “You Say” and the senior instrumental ensemble played “All Star.” The 2020 class gift was a fund to purchase a new cross to be displayed in a new chapel hall the school is planning on building.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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