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Miller, Haffner earn FHS top honors

Valedictorian Jesse Miller, left, and Salutatorian Natasja Haffner will be participating in commencement exercises with their fellow 229 graduating seniors. Graduation begins at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Farmington Civic Center.

Jesse Miller and Natasja Haffner have been named valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, of the 2019 Farmington High School Senior Class and will graduate with 229 of their fellow students during commencement exercises to be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Farmington Civic Center.

The daughter of Rodney and Susie Miller of Farmington, Miller finished her school career with a 6.05 GPA, earning her the honor of class valedictorian.

Offering some practical advice for incoming freshman, Miller said, “Always put school first and then your extracurricular and social life, because in the long run school is what really matters. Don’t take your senior year for granted ... it flies by.”

Miller was a member of student council for four years and played on the varsity volleyball team. She took part in HOSA, a medical sciences club and in her junior and senior years was a member of the National Honor Society.

“I received a lot of awards in volleyball,” she said. “I was All-District; First Team All-Conference three times; and Academic All-State four times. I was a two-time Dream Team member, B104 Athlete of the Week and Parkland Health Mart Athlete of the Week.”

Miller received the Dean’s Scholarship, Work Experience Scholarship, Farmington Education Foundation Scholarship and First State Student Bankers Scholarship.

“I am going to Indiana University to major in biology,” she said. “I got direct admission to their arts and sciences. I am going to be a part of their rowing team. After attending Indiana, I plan on medical school somewhere.”

Natasja Haffner, the daughter of Richard Haffner of Farmington and Pamela Haffner of Bonne Terre, finished her school career with a 5.8 GPA, earning her the honor of salutatorian.

Haffner offered similar advice for incoming freshman, saying, "I would agree with Jesse about putting school first, but not to the point that you stress yourself out."

Haffner participated in cross-country track and National Honor Society.

“My greatest award was from cross country," she said. "I received the Prefontaine Award for giving it your all."

Haffner received an Elk’s Lodge scholarship and will be attending Missouri State University–Columbia.

“I’m thinking about social work, but I’m not sure yet,” she said.

According to Haffner, she plans on relaxing some before starting college, while Miller is going to continue working at a local bank with the exception of taking time off to go on an Alaskan cruise with her mother and aunt.

Farmington High School Principal Dr. Jamie LaMonds offered high praise for the two graduates.

“We are very proud of Jesse and Natasja, she said. “They are both outstanding young ladies who worked hard to accomplish what they have. FHS is proud to celebrate them at our upcoming graduating ceremony.”

According to the graduation program, the Farmington High School Band under the direction of Matt Kasper will play “Pomp and Circumstance” while the students enter the civic center.

Following the entrance, the Star Spangled Banner will be performed by the FHS Band under the direction of Elliot Naes. The FHS AFJROTC Color Guard will present the colors.

Student Council President Elizabeth Felker will give the welcome and military recognition, followed by the “Armed Forces Salute” performed by the FHS Band under the direction of Mari Porter.

Recognition of Mineral Area College graduates will be by Diana Stuart, MAC's dean of Arts and Sciences.

Senior Class President Kody Winch will give the senior challenge, followed by the junior response by Junior Class President Blaine Worley.

The A Cappella Choir directed by Claire Naes will perform the senior song “The Lonesome Road."

This year's guest speaker will be David Buerck.

Assistant Principal Roy Northern will present the Knight of the Year Award and LaMonds will present the top 10 students, as well as the valedictorian and salutatorian.

Board of Education President Howard Hoehn and Vice President Dolores Howard will present the diplomas and A+ medals.

The school song will be led by Claire Naes, accompanied by the FHS Band.

LaMonds will confer the degrees and the FHS Band, directed by Matt Kasper, will perform the recessional.

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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