Seventy students graduate in a socially distanced ceremony on Perham Field

Jamie Ausk Crisafulli
Thursday, May 28, 2020
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Members of the Class of 2020 throw their mortarboards in the air at the culmination of the graduation ceremony on Sunday. Right: (L to R) Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Dawson County High School Principal Spencer Johnson and co-valedictorians Kayla Brown and Kasidi Walker lead graduates on the field Sunday. Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photos

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After 36 hours of rain, the skies cleared just enough for 70 Dawson County High School graduates to receive their diplomas during a graduation ceremony held on Perham Field Sunday afternoon.

It was a graduation ceremony that almost never was, as the Class of 2020 faced numerous obstacles – a traditional school cancellation, state and local COVID-19 restrictions and finally weather – as they worked to bring a celebratory closure to their senior year.

“Alright Class of 2020, we’re supposed to be the class with the vision, right? Well I bet none of you saw this coming,” co-valedictorian Kayla Brown told her classmates.

Click here to see the Dawson County High School Class of 2020!


Valedictorians Brown and Kasidi Walker took their classmates on a trip down memory lane Sunday and expressed their appreciation for all of the individuals – from teachers to parents to school staff to their classmates – who shaped them along the way.

“Never forget to keep looking to the future, because with that 20/20 vision, you can do anything,” Brown said.

In her valedictorian speech, Walker noted her class is defined by their ability to prove others wrong, saying they never failed to do so.

“We have one of the most ambitious and driven classes because we are set on proving people who doubt us wrong,” she said.

She encouraged her classmates to continue down that path and go all in in their future pursuits.

Keynote speaker Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale, a Dawson County resident, encouraged the graduates to recognize and seize opportunity when it comes along.

“We are blessed to live in a nation that offers incredible opportunity. Every year that goes by, advances in technology and manufacturing and agriculture continue to offer jobs that 10 or 20 years ago we couldn’t even conceive,” Rosendale said.

He said the country is on the verge of a new renaissance, and he encouraged the Class of 2020 to “grasp it, be part of it,” telling them to find a job that they are good at and that they enjoy.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing is more fulfilling than accomplishing a day’s work at a task that you love,” he said.

Rosendale said his vision is for each of the 2020 graduates is that they reach their full potential.

Principal Spencer Johnson recognized academic achievements of members of the graduating class and those who held leadership roles, noting that the ceremony was held because of their efforts.

After school administrators announced a plan earlier this month to hold a virtual graduation, members of the student body developed a plan to hold the graduation on the field that would allow for social distancing measures required by local health board officials. The board approved the students’ plan, which included only two guests per student allowed to attend the ceremony.

Before awarding diplomas, Johnson encouraged graduates to check their emails for a video message from Glendive Superintendent of Schools Stephen Schreibeis, who was not in attendance at Sunday’s ceremony.

Reach Jamie Ausk Crisafulli at