Principal David Steward described the class as "highly competitive" during Monday night's honors program. Steward noted four students finished with perfect grade point averages. In such circumstances, school policy relies on the number of advance placement classes students have taken to pick the top honorees. Liz Sutton became the valedictorian with the most advanced classes. Brooke Beckwith and Lara Ellis tied for the honor to be salutatorian.
Two graduates, Sutton and Kennon Cox, scored 31 or higher on the ACT to earn a Bright Flight Scholarship through the University of Missouri system as being among the top 3 percent of graduates for the year.
Solensky described the graduating class as "extroverted, lively, very talented, close" and "very fun." Solensky found the students in general to be very involved in community service with a wide mix of personalities. All the students seem ready to take on life after high school, she said.
Unlike most years, Solensky said none of the graduates have firm plans to go to very distant colleges. Two planned to go the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and one was going to the University of Missouri in Columbia as the farthest destinations. The largest group of graduates had plans to take advantage of A+ benefits by attending Crowder College and Ozark Technical College for two years.
The largest group of studets will enroll at Missouri State University in Springfield with the next largest group heading to Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Several have plans to go to Drury University.
This was Solensky's third year as a counselor at Monett High School. She said she had not seen much change in students as a whole in her tenure. Compared to students a decade ago, Solensky said today's graduates have cell phones and are very savvy about technology. Many wanted laptops for graduation presents.
Solensky was pleased at the number of scholarships offered the MHS graduates. Students had accepted $145,098 in scholarships from colleges and universities.
"The key to getting a scholarship is to try," Solensky said. "A lot don't. Those scholarships are being given to someone. It might as well be a student from Monett."
Colleges continue to rely on academic performance as the benchmark for scholarship consideration, Solensky said. In cases of financial need, schools are turning to the standards detailed in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
Support shown by local organizations, businesses and individuals to higher education through local scholarships has remained strong, Solensky said. Local scholarships from 36 different sources added up to $97,500 in support awarded to graduating seniors this year. A total of 60 students received scholarships.
Three local scholarships were added this year in addition to all the past scholarships returning. New scholarships included the "Hot Rod" Isbell Memorial Scholarship, the Robert L. Gollahon Memorial Scholarship, and one from the FFA Booster Club.
"I appreciate all the hard work the students did for four years," Solensky said. "I wish they all could have received a scholarship."
Scholarships and honors presented at the honors program appear in the print edition of the May 12 issue of The Times.