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Wasatch High seniors reach the finish line

Wasatch High seniors celebrate their graduation at the Wasatch County Event Complex on Thursday, May18, 2023. The school's Class of 2023 produced 531 graduates, including 117 ESL students.
Wasatch High School
Wasatch High seniors celebrate their graduation at the Wasatch County Event Complex on Thursday, May 18, 2023. The school's Class of 2023 produced 531 graduates, including 117 ESL students.

The students of Wasatch High’s Class of 2023 were halfway through their freshman year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. As those students celebrated their graduation Thursday, they also reflected on the challenges they faced as they worked towards this moment.

The moment Cory Lange crossed one finish line on Thursday, the race was on to cross another.

“Going into this week, we knew that state track was at BYU on the same day as our graduation at Wasatch,” said Cory's mother, Liz Lange.  

The Utah State High School Track and Field Championships began in Provo on Thursday. Cory was part of the Wasatch High track team that was in attendance, and his last event of the day was the 200-meter relay. That event was scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m. His graduation ceremony was scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

The relay was delayed until 5:50 p.m., Liz Lange said, "so it was making that tighter and tighter and more stressful.”

The family had worked out a plan with the school’s athletic director. They would rush back to Heber City when the race was over to catch the end of the ceremony. Cory would be the last one to walk across the stage – if he could make it back in time.

“On the way up the Provo Canyon, he's like, ‘We're in the M's. We're in the R’s. We're in the S’s. We're in the T’s.' He’s like, 'Are you close?’" Liz Lange said. "We were in constant communication. We’re like, ‘We're going to make it. We’re going to make it.’ He had his cap and gown for him just ready to throw on over his tracksuit.” 

Cory barely had enough time but he made it to his graduation. But “barely enough time” seemed a common theme at the ceremony.

“Somehow as I sit among my fellow classmates today, I see a startling amount of unfamiliar faces," said Allison Munck, one of four valedictorians who spoke. "And it's moments like these that I wish I had a little more time to meet people, a little more time to cultivate friendships and make memories.”  

It was a sentiment echoed by Wasatch High Assistant Principal Tara Jarvie.

“We worry about them transitioning into the real world because we just don't feel like we had enough time with them," she said. "But they’re as ready as they can be. They've taken all the classes. They've done the same amount of work, but it took a little more effort on their part.”  

For those efforts, Wasatch High’s Class of 2023 was offered $9.5 million in scholarships, according to Wasatch County School District spokesperson Kirsta Albert.

Wasatch High Principal Justin Kelly commended his students for their hard work in the face of adversity.

“Your world was rocked your freshman year, with the COVID shut down," he said in his remarks during the ceremony. "Your sophomore year consisted of a new normal. Everyone had to wear a mask. Then your junior year consisted of, ‘Do we wear a mask to school, or is school going to be shut down due to too many COVID cases?’ And now your senior year, we have asked you to have a normal school year.” 

Despite those challenges, new graduate Isabella Frahm said she wouldn’t change her high school experience.

“I feel like my experiences have shaped me into who I am today," she said. "And, yeah, there were parts that weren't awesome. But I think they were still meaningful.” 

Cory Lange said he had a good high school experience. And after Thursday’s rush was over, he said he had a pretty great day.

“It was two big events in my life," he said. "To have them all happen in the same day, I was kind of on top of the world right now.” 

In total, 531 Wasatch High seniors graduated on Thursday, including 117 ESL students.