"This is a fun class," Solensky said. "They are super competitive academically. A lot of them are super focused and seem to know what they are ready to do."
Last Friday was the day originally set for graduation. The date was moved a week later due to snow days. To show they had not forgotten, seniors came to school in their caps and gowns, an act Solensky found very much in character with the group.
Yet unlike many of their predecessors, graduates in this year's class are not bound for many distant schools. A few are going to the University of Missouri in Columbia and to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Fewer than usual are going to Missouri State University and Missouri Southern State University. Of the more distant travelers, one is going to Oklahoma State University and another is headed to the Art Institute in Kansas City.
Solensky saw a spike in numbers headed to Ozark Technical College and Crowder College. She credited tighter times economically for more students taking advantage of benefits through the A+ program at a two-year college before going on to finish a four-year degree.
The state has talked about cutting back on the A+ program.
"That would impact us," Solensky said. "We certainly are a school where students take advantage of it."
Solensky found a considerable number of graduates with a clear view of where they want to go next, especially students who have explored career options through the Southwest Area Career Center.
Solensky said college has largely become a two-part experience, confining the basics to the first two years and then pursuing specific studies after that.
A total of 37 local scholarships were given out at the honors program. Solensky said the local community has continued a strong commitment to education in supporting local scholarships.
New this year is the Selina Craig Memorial Scholarship, given to a graduate pursuing a degree in education and a career in teaching. The Monett Alumni Association introduced a new scholarship and the John Heim Memorial Scholarship, which is not given every year, was back.
"I wish all the students could get local scholarships," Solensky said. "They're all deserving. It's hard work to fill out all the applications and gather letters of recommendation."
Monett students continued to earn major scholarships. Solensky said Anna Arnaud and Gabby Rodriguez in particular received significant scholarships from the University of Missouri.
Military academies have tightened their standards and are no longer accepting students with GEDs or equivalency degrees through the Missouri Options program. No Monett students were going to military academies this year, Solensky said.
Four Monett graduates earned Bright Flight scholarships to the University of Missouri system by scoring at least 31 on the ACT college entrance exam. Those four were Anna Arnaud, Hannah Martin, Brit Isbell and Melissa Gaspar.
The four valedictorians, Arnaud, Gaspar, Desirae Fowler and Jennifer Frazier reflected the competitive nature of the class by not only having perfect 11.0 grade point averages over their four years in high school, but also in each having taken six advanced placement classes, used as a tie breaker.
The four will share one speech for graduation, taking turns at the podium. Graduation is at 8 p.m. on Friday in the high school gymnasium.
"I think this is a very bright class," Solensky said. "They've always been a hardworking group and have been very successful."