BOWLING GREEN—The mood leading up to graduation this year was far more lively than what had transpired last year, when schools across the state had been closed because of the pandemic.
Smiles were everywhere as the students got their caps and gowns ready for the ceremony that would propel them out of high school and into the world. After listening to the choir sing “Hallelujah,” Principal Scott Mullins said the song expressed exactly what he was feeling, being able to hold the in-person graduation for the students and their families.
“It has been a difficult year, with lots of things thrown our way,” Mullins said. “Our senior leadership this year was really vital to make this year happen. … They really made things happen when things were tough,” he added.
Last year the ceremony was done virtually, with students having a set time to arrive at the school auditorium to receive their diplomas. This year, however, even with masks on and plenty of hand sanitizer nearby, the ceremony went off without a hitch.
The Top 10 Percent of the class were: Jacob Bowen, Callie Edmond, Whitley Carroll, Claire Graver, McKenna Orf, Haylee Chandler and Victoria Meier. Graduating Suma Cum Laude was Jacob Bowen. Graduating Magna Cum Laude were: Audrey Brewster, Haylee Chandler, Victoria Meier, Shay Butler, Vanessa Davis, Evan Meyer, Whitley Carroll,Claire Graver and Summer Sherder. Graduating Cum Laude were: Audrey Dean McKenna Orf, Callie Edmond, Brianna Walker and Jonah Jones.
The Salutatorian for 2021 was Haylee Chandler, and the Valedictorian was Jacob Bowen. Haylee intends to attend St. Louis Community College to study accounting. Jacob intends to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia to study accounting and economics.
Brandon Cagle and Evan Meyer gave commencement addresses. Brandon thanked the teachers and the administrators who kept the school running through 18 challenging months. He also thanked the parents who sacrificed to see their children graduate.
His main focus was talking about fear. He gave a quote from one of the characters from the sitcom “The Office.”
“Don’t be afraid of fear because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger. And when you run away from fear, you run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”
He noted that fear can motivate or tear someone down.
“It’s OK to fear. Let it drive you to do great things,” Brandon said. “We will be the next greatest generation to make our mark on this world.”
Evan said, “This year has been a year like no other.” The challenges the students, faculty, administration and parents faced were tremendous. “Not only did we survive” everything the pandemic threw at us, “we thrived,” he added.
His central theme was time. Evan noted that it is life’s greatest resource. He has app on his phone that lets him know how much time he spends looking at his phone. He averaged 5 hours a day, he said. He extrapolated that over the next 50 years, he realized he would be spending 91,000 hours looking at his phone.
“That roughly 10 years of my life looking at my device,” he said. That’s why he implored his fellow classmates to live their lives to the fullest and not spend all their time looking at their electronic devices. “Learn to value every moment,” he concluded.