Pella High School celebrated the graduating class of 2019 with faculty, family and friends on Friday evening.

The class had a total of 162 graduates. At the beginning of the ceremony, graduates presented their class flower, the white rose, to those who have helped them along their journey.

Allison Clark and Luigi Lopez were chosen as class speakers for the ceremony and were introduced by student council president Elizabeth Sales. Clark and Lopez thanked the hard work and loving support of staff, teachers, family and fellow classmates.

“One way to get through hardship is by surrounding yourself with genuine and caring people,” said Clark. “Our class is made up of some amazing people that have taught me a lot about life over the years.”

Clark stated the class was presented with many challenges along the way but were able to succeed with the support of faculty, extracurriculars and groups. Clark also honored Peyton Tighe, a classmate who passed away last year.

“As we celebrate this momentous occasion in our lives, we should not forget our classmate, teammate and friend who is not here.”

Lopez acknowledged how he and his classmates learned from their mistakes, touching upon challenges and tribulations. He also emphasized the importance of thanking those who have helped them along the way.

“I want you to remember the importance of thankfulness; thank the people who have helped you this far,” said Lopez. “Be thankful for the mistakes you have made, and be thankful for the memories that have been created, because you cannot relive these moments again. I’m going to miss this school, and I am going to miss this class.”

Business teacher Jay McKinstrey was the faculty speaker and highlighted the importance of showing up every day and choosing to have a positive attitude. McKinstrey told a story about “pairing up,” or surrounding yourself with the right people in order to succeed.

“You become like the people you hang around with, and to a great degree, wind up where they’re headed,” said McKinstrey. “When there’s someone else behind the steering wheel, it needs to be someone you trust with your life.”

Principal Eric Nelson gave his last commencement speech before retiring after this school year. He told a story about a challenging time in his life and how he picked himself back up again.

“Each of you will go through many transitions in your life,” said Nelson. “Some of these will be easy, and some of these will not. However, each transition is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow, to learn and to become a better person.”

Emily Hawk can be reached at 641-628-3882 or