Graduation ceremonies drew a standing room only crowd that flowed out into the high school commons area. The crowd cheered loudly as the long line of graduates wearing purple gowns filed into the gym while the MHS Concert Band played the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance."
MHS Principal David Steward opened the commencement ceremony by introducing the board of education as well as the top 10 percent of the Class of 2010 and their parents. Top students include: Brooke Beckwith, Beau Bounous, Katherine Campbell, Kennon Cox, Al Dohmen, Lara Ellis, Tandi Glouse, Sara Hammond, Hayley LaGarce, Aubrey Lemaster, Traci Meadows, Micah Miller, Susana Lizeth Montelongo, Iliana Rangel and Elizabeth Sutton.
Steward also offered his thoughts about the Class of 2010 and what defined them as a class.
"This class embraced their diverse talents and backgrounds to make it a very cohesive group," said Steward. "Their togetherness is impressive.
"The faculty and staff are very proud of your accomplishments," Steward said. "I'm confident the Class of 2010 will make an indelible mark on the world."
In addition to fielding an historically large graduating class, Friday night's graduation was also unique because it featured a salutatorian address done in tandem. Brooke Beckwith and Lara Ellis addressed their classmates together.
"The one thing we want to challenge you guys with is, as you go through life, always appreciate the small things," said Beckwith.
"Life is more about the little moments that last forever than the big ordeals that fade," said Ellis. "Remember to cherish every moment with your family and friends. Value all of the opportunities that come your way, and never forget the memories this class has shared."
"We want you to go out tonight and make memories that will last a lifetime," added Beckwith.
As the two young women concluded their tag team speech and left the stage, they donned sunglasses just as the song "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas began playing over the gymnasium's speaker. The beginning notes of the popular song prompted all the graduates to pull out sunglasses and began singing and dancing to the chorus, "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good, Good Night."
Valedictorian Elizabeth Sutton then took over the microphone to deliver her speech. Monett's top graduate used her time on the stage to look ahead to the future.
"For so long our primary goal has been getting through school," said Sutton. "Tonight puts the seal on that chapter of our lives and now we are on to bigger and better things.
"Tonight is the night that our lives truly begin. Tonight we become more than just students, we become citizens of the world," said Sutton. "Tonight we become accountable to the world, to the future and to all the opportunities in store for us.
"Our job now is to embrace life, love, responsibility and opportunity," said Sutton. "I challenge you to strive for excellence in everything you do, and I challenge you to never quit chasing your dreams."
Monett R-1 Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann also spoke to members of the Class of 2010, who were eighth graders when he served as principal at Monett Middle School.
"I remember your passion, your energy and I remember those smiles," said Dr. Jungmann.
The superintendent also shared a story of these same students who as middle schoolers decided to have a little fun at his expense by ringing his doorbell in the middle of the night.
"I remember finding some of you in a ditch by my house," said Dr. Jungmann. "I also remember your faces when I sneaked up behind, gave you a little reprimand and walked you back to your parents."
In addition to their penchant for fun, Dr. Jungmann commented on the Class of 2010's "willingness to step up . . . to raise the bar . . . and to meet goals."
In ending his speech, Dr. Jungmann challenged the graduates to complete one final assignment that involved three simple things. He asked the students to reflect, refuel and reboot as they took the next step into life after high school.
"Class of 2010, I want to personally congratulate you for your hard work and dedication to make it to this important night," said Dr. Jungmann. "And I'm sure it's going to be a good night."