The school theme for the year, as a banner over the commons room displayed, has been "Lead out Loud." Principal David Steward told the seniors during rehearsal on Friday morning to show personality as they walked down the center aisle to their seats.
The first two graduates to enter, Ryan Saunders and Emily Copening, waltzed down the aisle together. In other boy-girl pairs, most walked arm in arm. Some of the boys carried the girls, on their shoulders and in their arms. One girl carried a boy on her shoulders. The last three walked up the aisle together, carrying the middle one off his feet.
Steward declared the presence of the classmates in the gym that night represented a celebration of 13 years of achievement.
"This class has represented their school with respect, honor and pride," Steward said. "We share the pride your families are feeling. I am confident you will have a major impact on the world."
Class honors included 29 high honors diplomas and 25 student honors diplomas. Based on grade point averages, 27 graduated summa cum laude for an average of 10.0 or higher, 24 graduated magna cum laude for 9.0 to 10.0 averages, and five were cum laude, with averages of 8.5 to 9.0.
Valedictorian Jacob Fair shared memorable moments from time shared by the class.
"Tonight is the last time that we will be able to share a memory as a class," Fair said. "It is not a time to be sad, rather a time to be excited. No matter what we do, we will always have these times to remember. Let's party like it's 2012."
Salutatorian Nicollette Fellwock opened with a gut reaction of "now what?" having reached graduation. Upon reflection, she determined the teachers had prepared the class, dispelling the need for worry.
Fellwock recalled outstanding achievements by her classmates.
"Thank you to the faculty, staff, board of education, family and friends who have been with us on our journey through school," Fellwock said. "We let the world know we were here with everything we did. Always remember the motto 'YOLO' (You only live once), so live it up, take chances, pick your battles and never look back."
Fellwock concluded by leading her classmates in the Senior Battle Cry.
Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann, with barely enough voice, delivered his final graduation speech in Monett. He recalled the first speech he gave to the class as principal of Monett Middle School, and how they had endured 1,049 days of school since then to reach graduation. Jungmann had five points for the graduates to remember.
* "It's not about getting a chance; it's about taking a chance."
* "Don't dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long. Right now is life; live it."
* "You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life."
* "You are limited only by your imagination; let it fly."
* "Never let success go to your head and never let failure go to your heart."
Jungmann said his points represented a little of what life has taught him so far. Though life would have its share of twists and turns, he said the graduates could handle the bumps with grace and style.
The graduates crossed the stage as assistant principal David Miller read their names. Members of R-1 Board of Education took turns presenting diplomas, and shared the honor with 12-year past board member Scott Beckwith, who handed the diploma to his son, Bryan.
The audience cheered for each of the graduates. When Jennifer Eggert, who usually uses a walker, crossed the stage, having practiced all year to build up enough strength to make the walk, the crowd applauded her achievement.
The evening ended with the classmates turning the tassels on their mortarboard hats, swaying arm-in-arm to the school toast and tossing their hats into the air. Danika White led the band playing Karl King's "Prestissimo" as the new graduates left the gym to celebrate.
Television screens were set up in the commons room to provide viewing for those who arrived after the gym had filled. School resources officer Jay Jastal provided crowd control