SM North’s graduation orator lauds school’s cohesiveness amidst diversity

Ben Tyrrell is the student orator at tonight’s SM North graduation ceremony.

When the call went out for SM North seniors to apply to be the student orator at this year’s graduation ceremony, Ben Tyrrell didn’t have to think too hard about what message he would want to deliver.

After four years at the school, he’d grown a passionate affinity for his high school’s culture of cohesiveness. SM North may have one of the most diverse mixes of students — from race, to socioeconomics to viewpoints — in the district. But that’s never gotten in the way of the students coming together.

“There’s a mindset that goes along with the diversity. We’re a cohesive unit. And we work together really, really well. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you think. We’re a big team,” Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell, who spent three years running for SM North’s cross country teams and was named North’s recipient of the NAIA Athlete of Character award this week, is headed to the University of Minnesota, where he plans to study engineering, this fall.

Many people might find the move to a university that has more than 50,000 students enrolled to be daunting. Tyrrell says it was one of the things that attracted him to the school.

“When you’ve got that many people there, you’re going to have people from all different backgrounds,” he said. “That’s one of the things I liked, because I knew I wouldn’t be stuck in some small groups or clique.”

As for the prospect of standing in front of thousands of students and SM North family members to deliver his speech tonight, Tyrrell said he’s not nervous.

“I wrote it out, but I like to kind of just talk on the fly,” he said. “I know what I want to say.”