A beautiful spring evening was the backdrop as about 166 North County High seniors filed onto Raider Field Tuesday night, went through ceremonial rigors, and finally turned the tassels on their mortar boards before tossing them high in the air on Raider Field Tuesday night.
The evening began when High School Principal Dr. Ryan Long, in his address, encouraged the gowned seniors on the field to take out their cell phones to message something positive to the person who inspired them, supported them or shaped their destiny. “And really, I’d encourage everyone in the stands to message their graduate now, too,” he added.
Long also urged the seniors to give of themselves as others had given to them.
“As you go out to make your mark in the world, don’t forget to invest your time, your treasure and your talent on others just as they have done for you. Don’t focus so much on ‘the what’ that is next, so much that you forget about ‘the why’ —‘the why’ is just as important,” he said. “Don’t just pursue greatness for greatness’ sake. Be great so you can inspire others. Don’t just try to amass a fortune. Seek to be generous and bless others. Don’t just climb the ladder of success. Use your success to lift others up with you. I say this because, while all these pursuits are worthy of your efforts, they will be wasted if you fail to use your potential to impact those around you.”
Senior Class President Bryan Brewster took the podium as the audience and graduates cheered. He delivered an address that included, “… remember to always be true to yourself. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion or expectations delete your path. Listen to your heart and follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid to take risk or make mistakes. Failure is an essential part of the learning process and it’s how you would grow and develop as individuals. I know that the world can seem overwhelming at times, but I also know that you’re more than capable of handling whatever comes your way.”
Valedictorian Holly Thedford, who earned a 4.217 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale and will be pursuing dietetics at University of Missouri, urged her fellow students to give themselves to Jesus and to “always work as hard as you can for what you want, while also leaving time for fun.
“Don’t let your phone distract you from things and people who are important. Focus on the little things in life and don’t let your past determine your future. Success is a prime aspect of a happy life. Therefore, it’s important to work hard and accomplish the things you want. Drinking, vaping and all those other bad habits will not give your life true purpose. So refrain from it and present yourself to Jesus. Of course, it’s also important to live your life and find joy in it, but in positive ways.”
Salutatorian Haley Thornton, who earned a 4.131 cumulative GPA and will be pursuing commercial aviation at Southeast Missouri University, encouraged her classmates to pay attention to their high school memories and find the lessons in them. She recounted several of her own memories and the ways they changed her life and outlook.
“I pray that you’ve all either come to similar conclusions, or at least will before our ‘last summer’ is over. The mention of our ‘last summer’ sounds sad, but I’d like to relay something that a speaker at my college orientation said,” Thornton stated. “If these were the best years of your life out of, say, 75, then you’re doing it wrong. Yes, high school was fun. We’ve enjoyed it. But make sure this small fraction doesn’t outweigh the world that awaits. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the city limits. Anything and everything is out there if you so choose to pursue it.”
Music for the evening began with the traditional playing of “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the North County Symphonic Band which was led by Director Dobie Carroll, and the National Anthem performed by the North County Singers which was led by Vocal Music Director Allyn Rizo. Graduates who were in the North County Singers left their seats to join the classmates they’re leaving behind for an acapella performance of “For All We Know” by Sam M. Lewis and J. Fred Coots. Graduates who were in the NCHS Symphonic Band joined their classmates to perform “America the Beautiful.”
Once the diplomas were handed out, the tassels turned, and the mortar boards tossed in the air, the lights on the field were turned off so a fireworks display could be enjoyed before families and friends joined their graduates on the field.
In the middle of the ceremony, many graduates were asked to rise so the audience could recognize them for extra honors, which are indexed among the entire list of graduates as follows (the different symbols in the key below are separated by “|”):
> Unitec CTE | < FBLA | & Internship (Pro-Tec) | # National Honor Society | % Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society | + Military Enlistment | * Cum Laude – “with honor” | ^ Magna Cum Laude – “with great honor” | = Summa Cum Laude – “with highest honor”
Daniel Anthony James Allen, Dezaray Lynn Lee Bacon, James Phillip Bailey, Steven Anthony Bailey, Joseph Dean Barlow > #, Ryleigh Nicole Bell <, Brooke Lauren Bennett # =, Colleen Renee Bess, Kyle Vincent Boyer, Kolton Avery Boylan, Seth Michael Bracken * +, Bryan Paul Brewster, Kaleb Michael Burcham, Arianna Kendra Buxton, Sara Faith Byrd # *, Lainey Sue Calkins =, Wyatt Alexander Cauley, Lily Ann Cavins #, Zoey Espn Cheek, Drew Deion Christopher # ^, Andrew Scott Civey #, Addison Micheal Coleman, Connor Thomas Coleman +, Brayden Michael Cooley, Lance Michael Copling, Kathryn Grace Cox, Trenton Eric Crepps, Alexis Payge Ryleigh Dalton >, Jaiden Alexcis Declue, Kaira Marie Dickey, Sienna Marie DiLoretta, Madlynn Lillian DiPietro # *, Elliott Evan Dodson, William Otis Dugal, Cooper Daniel Dunn, Cody David Eaton, John Arthur Faupel, Samantha Josephine Fees, Somer Ann Felty # % =, Dillon Cole Forney, Scott Michael Franklin Jr., Keegan Dewayne Gabor, Satina Marisa Maree Gage, Daniel Charles Gantz #, Alexis Jorja Gates >, Isaac Shane Gaugel #, Raegan Jane Gibson # % =, Jasmine Leigh Gidron, Mikala Jayde Gile, Olivia Catherine Gillam < # % *, Gavin Mitchell Gilliam # % ^, Ty Christian Gordon, Kylie Elizabeth Anne Haberkampf, Hannah Joyce Hale < # =, Carter Dale Halter &, Faith Ann-Marie Hanes, Audrey Layne Hawkins, Shane Lee Hedrick, Tyler Stephen Helm, Lilly Jean Hensley, Gabrielle Elaine Marie Hill, Blaine Charles Holmes, Wayd Ryan Hommelson, Whitney Marie Hosking, Blake Eric Howell, Andrew Joseph Hubbart, Andrea Dannylle Huff < % ^, Lillian Jade Jenkins, Tyler Joseph Johnson &, Logan Anthony Joiner, Marissa Renee Jones ^, Gaige Allen Joplin, Autumn Rose Karsch < %, Alainie Sue Kassabaum =, Landyn Joesph Keen, Kooper David Kekec, Anjolie Cecelia King, Emma Claire Lachance #, Kenleigh Allisyn Lange, Brenden Dale Lanham, Chloe Madison Lanz *, Paris Benee Larkin, Bobby Elisha Lawson, Mason Paul Levaun Lay # %, Jackson David Leeds # *, Paige Renee Lewis #, Abigail Elizabeth Long # % =, Kathrine Marie Long, Madelyn Louise Illeana Love # *, Katelyn Marie Loveless, Jaedyn Rylie Luebbers-Brown, Aurora Kindra Magura, Alia Denae Manzella, Emily Ann Marler >, Macy Brianne McCarty <#%= , Emily Marie McClure # % ^, Dane Wilson McCoy >, Lucas Scott Means +, Mercedes Marie Meyer, Cortney Rayne Miller, Kylie Madison Moebes, Gracynn Rose Moore > # % *, Jack Andrew Moore, Caleb Jordan Morris, Grant William Mullins #, Bryonna Rachelle Murdock, Jacob Kenneth Murphy, Cadence Joel Myers # %, Alexander Dean Neece, Connor Austin Nixon < > #, Michael Edward Northcutt Jr., Brennon Louis O’Brien, Lauren Olivia Owings, Kevin Eugene Parker Jr., Hope Michelle Patterson *, Nathan Charles Peniston, Makenna Lynn Pierce, Lauren Sue Politte # =, Noah Benjamin Propst, Lucas Christopher Reissing >, Frank Nevin Rodenberg, Brighton Jacob Roth, Gillian Grace Rouggly, Bradley Von Schlemeier, Nathaniel Johan Schulte, Evan Matthew Scowden, Mason Lee Sherrow, Kaylee Elizabeth Shumate, Abbigail Tayler Skaggs, Logan Michael Edward Skaggs, Arianna Michelle Slover >, Jobe Daniel Smith # % *, Lauren Scarlett Jade Smith, Kaylee Elizabeth Sohn, Drake Alexander Spradling > #, Judah William Stegall, Michael Anthony Steinmetz, Leyna Joann Stillman =, Landon Wesley Stotler # % ^, Holden Alexander Swift >, Holly Adele Thedford # % =, Tyler Andrew Thomas, Gaveaira Elise Thompson-Bell, Gaven Erell Thompson-Bell, Haley Jo Thornton # % =, Summer Ashlyn Tomlinson <, Jacob Michael Umfleet &, Nora Grace Umfleet < % *, Rilie Jean Vaught, Evan Robert Veach % =, Ariel Elizabeth Wade, Tara-Lynette Nicole Walters >, Chase Wayne Whaley, Joselyn Gail Whaley, Makaia Shay Whitaker, Alec Karter Wigger, Layne Daniel Wigger, Colby Ryan Wilkerson > #, Gavin Scott Wilkinson, Garry Reed Williams, Haylie Marie Williams # % ^, Zachary Tyler Winton , Christopher James Wojnar , Darcey Renee Wright # % = , Luca Elizabeth Wruck # ^ , Natalie Robin Yim > # % =.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor of the Daily Journal.