During their time to shine, the graduates received honors and awards, heard reminisces from fellow classmates. Students Elizabeth Heeb and Kurstin Koch were named valedictorian and salutatorian. The night was wrapped up with the presentation of diplomas.
"It's amazing that we've come so far," senior Kelsie Brown said at Tuesday morning's practice. "I'm very excited, but it's kind of nerve-racking."
Brown plans to attend Southeast Missouri State University in the fall and major in art education.
At the commencement, the senior poem, "Now and Then," was written and read by Taylor Allen, who also presided over the ceremony in her role as class president. Allen also presented the four speakers selected through a tryout process: Aidan Marshall, Logan Hampton, Riley Lape and Aly Friend.
"We learned that the most imposing thing about high school is what comes after high school for each of us," she said."
Hampton also reminisced on school days of the past in his speech "Slow Down, Look Around."
"Did we ever slow down and look around? I don't think so," he said. But he urged his classmates to do just that. "Let's slow down for a couple of minutes and see what we've become," Hampton said.
In "Nostalgia Then, Reality Now," Lape talked about his anticipations for high school, based on TV shows such as "Boy Meets World" and "Saved by the Bell." But in reality, it wasn't the "brightly-colored paradise," he had seen on TV, Lape said. But that was OK.
Rounding out the speakers, Friend borrowed inspiration from the 1980s hit song "Celebration," in her speech, "Celebrate Our Day."
"My friends and I learned early in the year that we need to celebrate as much as possible," she said. Regardless of how busy they were, they would always be in the front row at Friday night football games or cheering on other teams, she said.
Beginning with graduation, Friend said seniors would finally choose their own path. "We're ready. Tonight is ours," she said. "Let's celebrate!"
Principal Tom Williams gave honors and awards and Steve Borgsmiller, superintendent, presented the class. Paul Boyd, school board president, and Brad Blackman, assistant principal, gave out diplomas.
Although many students, and audience members teared up during the ceremony, Kurstin Koch assured she would not be one of them. "I'm just excited," she said. "I'm not sad at all."
Koch, who was also named salutatorian, plans to attend Harding University in Arkansas.
Felicia Kennedy, senior class counselor, estimated 47 percent of the 215 graduates would go on to a four-year college or university, 24 percent would go to a two-year school and 7 percent would join the military. The remaining students' plans were classified as other, and included those undecided and who planned to go straight to work, she said.
Top college choices included Mizzou, Ole Miss, Truman State University, Missouri State University, Arkansas State University and Southeast Missouri State University.
Kennedy said she was quite proud of the group, especially those who had experienced accidents and suffered from cancer and other illnesses. She continued: "This group has really grown and they've matured into very intelligent and solid young ladies and gentlemen."