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TO THE STARS: GBHS celebrates the 2023 commencement
Class of ’23 sees 193 graduates
Great Bend High School’s 136th annual commencement was Sunday at Memorial Stadium, celebrating 193 seniors who have earned their high school diplomas. Students celebrate their graduation from Great Bend High School by wearing colorfully decorate mortarboards. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune
Gavin Allen Hirsh
Valedictorian Gavin Allen Hirsh recalled the words of President John F. Kennedy in his commencement address, urging fellow graduates to move out of their comfort zones and choose to do things, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Great Bend High School Valedictorian Gavin Allen Hirsh addressed his fellow graduates Sunday during the school’s 136th commencement.

Hirsh quotes President John F. Kennedy, who said at the height of the Cold War, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

“Comfort zones are our greatest threat as a civilization,” Hirsh said. “How often are you willing to leave your comfort zones and make decisions you straight up, 100%, completely don’t want to do defines how you do in life. ... I wish every student of the Class of 2023 a challenge that teaches vital life lessons and, better yet, a whole bunch of success in your future endeavors as we embark on our journey that will truly define who we are. It’s time to head to the moon!”

Salutatorian Kevin Rolando Gonzalez also delivered an address, reminding fellow graduates that “the Class of 2023 had a rocky start; we faced COVID-19, which wipes out a large portion of the last semester of our freshman year, but together, we conquered a pandemic!”

As the graduates get ready to begin their next chapter, Gonzalez said, “I encourage you to attack life with a little TLC.” Those stand for Thanks, Learning and “Connection. This is my favorite! If someone were to ask me what the best part of high school is, I would have to say it is the connection with people in the school.”

Sunday’s program also included music by the GBHS Band, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Class President Catie JoEllen Haberman, and a remarks by Principal Tim Friess.

“I personally appreciate you as a class and what you have meant to me and to GBHS,” Friess told the seniors. “You are truly a class that will be missed! Be blessed in your future endeavors.”

Members of the USSD 428 Board of Education presented the diplomas.