Purdy seniors receive life advice at graduation

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Purdy graduate Casey Ellison grinned fully as she turned her tassel to complete her high school days. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

More photos from Purdy's graduation may be found at: http://www.monett-times.com/gallery/32814

Graduates urged to cherish memories

Purdy High School graduates received advice and encouragement during graduation ceremonies on Sunday in the Purdy High School gym.

Graduates Hallie Henderson and José Perez exchanged hugs after Purdy’s graduation. Murray Bishoff/times-news@monett-times.com

The 45 members of the Class of 2018 for the first time received graduation designations using the Latin system. Ten were designated as cum laude, with grade point averages of 3.5 to 3.74 on a 4.0 scale, earning the recipients a silver stole with black markings. Three were named magna cum laude, with a GPA of 3.75 to 3.99, earning a silver stole with gold markings. Seven were summa cum laude, with a GPA of 4.0 or higher, earning a gold stole with black markings.

Speakers offered insight from their experience.

Valedictorian Layne Skiles talked about the sudden lapse of time, from the point where parents may have worried if their child belonged on the kindergarten trip to the zoo to students worrying if they would see "the light at the end of the tunnel" in one of Lisa Reid's high school science tests.

"It's not enough to simply just try to get by in life," Skiles said. "Be determined to be more that what people believe you are capable of. But don't let the opinions of others run your life. Don't wait to take chances. Life goes faster than you think. We're leaving here with standards met, goals accomplished and minds that are ready to take on the world."

Salutatorian Emily Webb talked about different measurements life has taken. As a preschooler, she measured how many Dora the Explorer pictures it took to reach a destination, or the minutes left in a nap before students could get up again, a routine she now wishes could be reinstituted. She suggested not measuring the Purdy school experience by the time spent between the walls but by the memories gathered that will be cherished in the future.

Lessons, Webb said, have including always walking on the right side of the hall, using a "zero level" voice and that "Eagles must always soar." She noted teachers taught students to believe in themselves and families have demonstrated how to show support. She expressed thanks for those who helped, and to her peers, "the only ones who truly know what these last four years consisted of."

The guest speaker was former elementary school principal Jeff Swadley, whom Superintendent Steven Chancellor introduced "at great risk," unsure of exactly the 10-year administrator who left in 2014 would say. Swadley told students speaking at a graduation had long been a "bucket list" goal for him, and he appreciated the invitation.

Thinking back to his Purdy High School class in 1988, Swadley was pleased to report his class produced two lawyers, a doctor, several educators and many business successes. He assured the graduates few would have seen him going on to college, and none would have envisioned him coming back to Purdy to speak.

Looking to the guides that led his adult life, Swadley offered 10 points for direction: Be slow to anger; kill them with kindness; treat others how you want to be treated; show empathy to others; if you enjoy your job, it will never seem like work; try your best to find the positive in every situation; follow your dreams; be quick to say you're sorry and be willing to make changes to improve your situation; think outside the box; and persevere.

Swadley talked about special qualities of the Purdy community, "where it is OK to publicly pray before a ball game, it's OK and expected to say 'please,''thank you' 'yes sir' and 'no sir.'

"Purdy is a place that will always be home and it will always welcome you back with open arms," Swadley said. "If you are feeling depressed, scared or nervous about the future, then come home. I guarantee that you will go back to school feeling better and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead."

Swadley concluded by restating his conviction that the classmates were destined for great things.

The Senior Choir sang "Good Times," directed by vocal music teacher Lauren Lee. Principal Derek Banwart noted the class had shown significant achievement, having earned more than $500,000 in scholarships announced at the annual honors assembly. Banwart asked graduates to come forward to receive diplomas, most presented by Todd Schallert, board president. Board member Ed Mareth was able to present his daughter, Emma, with hers.

Following the turning of tassels while facing the audience, the graduates returned wearing sunglasses that mostly blocked their vision to throw their mortar board hats into the air. Continuing tradition, the graduates also showered each other in Silly String and this year doused each other with confetti from a confetti cannon.

This was the first time Purdy graduation had been held on Mother's Day, a change due to scheduling conflicts with state athletic events. Many of the speakers gave special accolades to mothers. The mid-afternoon ceremony took less than an hour and had many mothers in attendance.

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