April 4, 2023


MERCER, Wis. (May 24, 2020) — It was anything but a normal year but the town came out to celebrate the 14 graduates of Mercer School in the only way they could under COVID-19 restrictions.

Ella Torkelson, left, the Mercer School class of 2020 valedictorian, waves to people cheering on the 14 graduating students during a town drive-thru tribute in their honor on Sunday. (Photo by Tom LaVenture)

The graduates of the smallest school district in the state of Wisconsin stood along the road in front of the school as family, friends and the community drove by in tribute. The sirens wailed, the car horns never stopped honking and excited loved ones waived and held signs of congratulations.

The graduates stood 6-feet apart in their caps and gowns. They waved holding flowers and in front of signs displaying their picture and a silhouette. 

“I think this is about as good as it gets given the situation and the school did a good job doing something special for us,” said Ella Torkelson, the class valedictorian.

It was a challenge to suddenly switch to online virtual learning this semester, she said. But the school and the students handled it well and this fall she will start her biology degree in the pre-med program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Ella Torkelson, left, the Mercer School class of 2020 valedictorian, will enter the pre-med program of the University of Wisconsin at Madison this fall. (Photo by Tom LaVenture)

Mercer is a resort community of around 1,700 people in Iron County, which is in northeast Wisconsin, near the border of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

LaVenture was reporting on this event for the Daily Globe in Ironwood, Michigan.

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