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The Marquand-Zion High School graduated 11 seniors during the May 10 Commencement Ceremony, as well as four eighth graders who graduated into high school.

The ceremony began with a welcome from Superintendent Scott Blake and an address from Donna Greer.

"It's always hard to know what to say and where to begin in a graduation speech," Greer said. "Do you give advice, do you quote famous people or do you speak from experience?" 

Greer said she had chosen to speak from the heart and proceeded to share "warm and fuzzy" memories about each student. She told the graduates to remember that their roots go down in the community as well as the school and to always, always be proud of that. 

Next, eighth grade Salutatorian Lea Simpson said no matter what she does, passion in her heart is important to her even if it is the simplest thing.

Following Simpson’s remarks, eighth grade Valedictorian Kaylee Stafford said her class may be small but they are mighty and gave the graduating seniors some advice.

"You will look back and look on this forever," Stafford said. "You didn't realize you were making memories you were just having fun, never forget the old ones. Good luck to you all, I hope you go big places and do big things."

High School Principal Sabrina Doublin then presented the eighth grade class to the board of education.

After the announcement of scholarships awarded to senior class members, senior Salutatorian Jessi Wilfong thanked her teachers and family.

"The years flew by, but I am so happy to graduate," Wilfong said. "Everything we've went through has made us who we are today. I would like to thank everyone who helped me through these years."

Senior Valedictorian Daryann Whitener started her speech by warning the crowd, saying she is the biggest baby they will ever meet and she would probably cry. 

"The last four years have been nothing short of interesting," Whitener said. "We've laughed, cried and felt every emotion in the book, but I wouldn't change a single thing. Every single moment we have had these last four years has helped shape us to who we are right now."

Whitener then, teary eyed, took her last moment on stage to speak about her best friend, Luke Emmett.

"Luke, since we were two it's been just me and you," Whitener said. "We went to the same babysitter, then the same day care and now we have attended the same school for the last 13 years. You have been my very best friend from the start. I am so proud of the person you've become. You are so strong. You make the hard stuff easy."

Whitener encouraged the incoming freshmen not to be afraid to mess up and to do everything they possible can and to take advantage of the four years they have in high school.

"Well classmates, we did it. We are done," Whitener said. "These past few months have been the best ever with you guys. Thank you for all the memories, the laughs, the tears and everything else."

The graduates were presented by High School Principal Sabrina Doublin and presented with their diplomas by Steve Stroup, President of the Board of Education.

The 2019 Marquand-Zion Graduating Class included Logan Barrett, Aryan "Cheyenne" Black, Angel Blake, Abigail Cooley, Lucas Emmett, Rylan Meek, Mariah O'Donnell, Johna Pruitt, Britteny Smith, Daryann Whitener and Jessi Wilfong.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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