Honoring our graduates

They ran a challenging home stretch

Humor helps.

Like the joke going around Facebook about those missing out on their graduation ceremonies:

“Hey seniors, if you’re really missing graduation, sit in the sun wearing a shower curtain while someone reads from a phone book for three hours.”

Laughing also helps cope with the conflicted emotions of this year’s graduating class, whether they’re finishing high school or getting an advanced degree.

“As a senior, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get my graduation and stuff,” said Jenna Rudolph, a 2020 Milton High School graduate. “School obviously ended three months earlier than I thought.

“I had three more months I could have had with my friends and my full high school experience. But I can’t really do anything about it.”

When Milwaukee Area Technical College closed its doors, it brought JaLayne Hawkins to tears.

“I just lost it. I cried,” said JaLayne, who just completed an associate degree in MATC’s funeral service program. “I didn’t realize how attached I got to everybody, how important that connection was.”

Jenna and JaLayne, both members of Milton UMC, are among millions of graduates whose final months of school have been disrupted by the covid-19 pandemic.

“The hardest thing has been being alone through it all,” Jenna said, remembering the last day of school in March. “All of a sudden, that day was our last day. I haven’t seen any of my friends since that day. It was sudden.

"I have friends who I don’t necessary hang out with outside of school but they were my school friends. I didn’t even think about saying goodbye and stuff because I assumed we’d be back. I may never see them again.”

Milton High School graduates were given an option of how they wanted to mark their graduation milestone. Jenna chose the option of having an administrator come to her home and present a diploma, which she received while wearing her cap and gown. Sister Megan Rudolph took pictures.

“You kind of have to go with the flow,” Jenna said. “I am already like that to begin with, so it’s easier for me. I don’t like change, but you know, I can’t really do anything about it.”

Some classmates have been upset by the circumstances.

“The school is trying their best. They’re taking precautions for everyone’s safety," she said. “It’s a hard time for everyone, so making people feel bad because you can’t get what you want isn’t going to help.”

For JaLayne, finishing her college career online was just another challenge in a process that began about three years ago. She had to complete general-ed prerequisites before beginning her program, she commuted through to Milwaukee in rush-hour traffic four days a week, and “then I came home and tried to be a mom. Otis (her husband) was in charge of a lot more while I was gone. ‘Otis, what are you making for dinner.’ And it would be tacos, again.”

The transition to online courses wasn’t easy for instructors or students, JaLayne said.

“They had a heck of a time trying to convert everything – lectures, study guides, and exams online,” she said. “They had to learn how to do Zoom meeting, Google meet, have office hours from their home. That first week they kept adding stuff to Blackboard, it was so overwhelming.

“I felt like I was playing Frogger in the middle of the road. Flat!”

With her degree work completed, JaLayne is now preparing for her national board exams. With the ensuing licensure, she will be able to take on more responsibilities at Albrecht Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, where she has worked on and off since 2013.

As for Jenna, not only did she finish her high school classes online, but she’s been enrolled in a nursing assistant’s course this spring at Blackhawk Technical College. She’s going into the nursing program there.

“I’m excited. I always told my mom I didn’t want to be like her,” said Jenna, whose mom, Lisa, is a nurse. “I didn’t grow up wanting to be a nurse. But I enjoy helping people.

“It’s also nice I’ll be an essential worker so I won’t be out of work if something like this happens again. Which is crazy I have to think about that now.”

- Pastor Steve Scott

We celebrate all spring 2020 graduates

They include:

Mariette & Glenn Amundson's granddaughter Abbey Falk, Milton H.S.


Pat Cameron’s grandson Ethan, Craig H.S.

Dave & Jan Evans’ granddaughter Mattie, Brown Deer H.S.

The Evans’ grandson Craig, UW-Madison

Jim & Sue Johnson’s granddaughter Morgan, Carthage College

Logan Shapiro, whose family moved away from Milton a few years ago, Denmark H.S., Ga.

Jenna Rudolph has had more time at home with her dog Oliver this spring

JaLayne Hawkins has earned an Associate's Degree

Logan Shapiro, formerly of Milton, is graduating from Denmark H.S. in Forsyth County, Ga.