Troftgruben to be 2020 commencement speaker

Hannah Gross

Newcastle High School English teacher Jessica Troftgruben is the class speaker for commencement, which will be held on Sunday, May 17, at the NHS parking lot.

Hannah Gross

NLJ Correspondent 


Newcastle High School English teacher Jessica Troftgruben has been chosen as the class speaker for this year’s graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Through her involvement with track and cross-country and holding various teaching positions in both the middle school and high school, Troftgruben has taught most of the seniors in both middle and high school.

“I have watched them grow from being sweet, bubbly sixth graders to driven, intelligent young adults,” Troftgruben said. “These kids have made some major accomplishments during their educational journeys, and many of them became essential workers during COVID. They can tackle anything that comes their way.” 

Troftgruben lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with her husband, Brad, and two sons, Tristan and Thatcher, before moving to Newcastle in 2007. She was pregnant with her third son, Teddy, when the family decided to come to Wyoming so her husband could take up his “dream job” with USDA Wildlife Services. Since then, she said, they’ve grown to love the community of Newcastle and beauty of the Black Hills. 

Troftgruben started her career with Weston County School District No. 1 working with Double AAces for about three years, where she received a lot of “great advice and mentorship” under Tamara Allen. In the summer of 2012, Troftgruben became a middle school summer school teacher and that fall, she became a full-time eighth grade teacher.

The following year, sixth grade English and sixth grade Reading classes were added to her slate, which made things busy but “extremely rewarding,” she said. 

“They were always keeping me on my toes. There was never a dull moment,” Troftgruben said.

In 2017, Troftgruben transferred to the high school, where she now teaches English III, Writing, Reading and Publications Production (Newc High News). Jumping from middle school to high school was a transition and presented its own, unique challenges and rewards, she said. 

“The pressure to assist them with the education and well-being before they leave our walls is higher, but so worthwhile. We catch a glimpse of who they will become, and they are constantly teaching us too,” Troftgruben said. 

While she is still preparing her speech for the ceremony, Troftgruben said, she believes the class of 2020 will do amazing things in life and she wants to remind them to take care of one another. 

“The simplest gestures can have the greatest impacts,” she said. 

Although COVID-19 has hindered “some of the best parts of high school” for the seniors, Troftgruben said, a nontraditional graduation ceremony will take place on the originally scheduled date of May 17 at 2 p.m. in the high school parking lot. While there will be a lot of emotion, Troftgruben is confident the seniors will be able to hold their heads up high as they embark on a new chapter in life.

“If they were able to be emotionally aware of how to navigate through these past few months of facing a pandemic, those next hardships they face will have nothing on them,” she said. “The class of 2020 has been making history since they walked through our doors and will continue to do so through this ceremony and beyond.”


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