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Lakeville's Student Speakers Hope to Inspire at Tonight's Graduation

Classmates to hear about curiosity and balance in their post-high school lives from Dylan Slinger and Zach Nelson.

When the graduating classes from Lakeville’s two high schools gather together for the final time tonight, they will hear messages about the need for curiosity and balance in their lives from some of their peers. The customary graduation speech tradition will be filled by Dylan Slinger at Lakeville South while Zach Nelson will deliver the parting speech for Lakeville North students.

Each speaker said they will draw on personal experiences to help sum up their student experiences and offer guidance to their fellow seniors as they all prepare to embark on life's journeys.

Slinger, a two-time Extemporaneous Speaking national champion during his high school career, said he was encouraged by classmates and faculty to take on the role of delivering the parting speech to his classmates.

“I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to ‘go for it’,” he said. “Plus, I don’t think anyone else wanted to do it,” he joked.

Slinger said he normally doesn’t script out his speeches but worked hard to write the graduation speech in advance due to the importance he felt the occasion warranted.

He hinted that his speech would strike a balance between reflection on the years his classmates spent at Lakeville South and offer insights into the need to be curious about the future.

“If you live curiously, your lives will be more content,” Slinger said. He plans to incorporate that theme heavily into the speech, but acknowledged that “it’s still a work in progress.

“I’ve really involved myself here and have seen every end of the spectrum,” said Slinger who has been active in numerous sanctioned school activities as well as ‘going out’ socially with a broad range of peers. “I feel I really know Lakeville South.”

Slinger will be attending the University of Pennsylvania following his graduation and plans to study business, finance and philanthropy while in college.

Balance is also something Lakeville North students will hear about from their classmate, Zach Nelson. Nelson will draw on a different kind of personal experience to provide motivation and reflection during his speech.

The senior was selected by a panel of judges that included faculty and students after submitting a draft of the speech along with a number of other students.

Nelson, who tragically lost both parents during the middle of his freshman year, said he plans to use the strength he found from that experience to help his graduating classmates in the future.

“I have a lot of insight,” said Nelson. “Going through that helped me to gain a lot of experience and wisdoms.”

Nelson intends to make finding balance a key theme of his speech.

“It’s all about finding balance in your life,” he said. “You need to lean the other way when you start to tip too far in the other direction.”

Nelson said following that philosophy helped him to get through the loss of his parents and continue on through the rest of his time in high school.

“It’s a metaphor for me,” he said. “After my parents passed away, I fell down, and I made a decision to get back up and keep going. I had to keep trying and regain that balance.”

Nelson says he thinks his classmates can learn a great deal from his experience and relate that to their post-high school journeys.

“I think it’s about how to conduct yourself when you find yourself without that safety cushion,” he said. “Like high school, and parents, both are safety cushions, and learning from both will help you to master life when they’re gone.”

Nelson is undecided on his college choice but plans to pursue a career in music education.  Nelson was involved in “many” extracurricular activities including choir during his high school years. He says growing closer to the people who he barely knew when he entered high school has been his fondest memory.

“I feel I have an intimate relationship with so many people now,” he said.

Both schools will have ceremonies at St. Paul’s Roy Wilkins Auditorium tonight.

Lakeville North's commencement ceremony is set to begin at 5 p.m. and South's at 8 p.m. Both events will take roughly two hours.

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