Meaning of life, future roles posed for Monett grads

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Monett graduates tossed their mortar board hats to conclude commencement exercises on May 11. Murray Bishoff/

More photos from Monett's graduation may be found at:

Graduation speakers seek purpose, vision for future

Monett High School graduates were challenged with the power of love, the value of teachers and a vision for future Monett graduates during commencement exercises for the Class of 2018 on Friday in the high school gym.

Principal David Williams presented John Schupbach, the first Monett High School student to complete a college degree while in high school using dual credit options, with his associate’s degree from Drury University. Murray Bishoff/

Principal David Williams said the 161 out of the 183 in the class participating in the ceremony represented the largest number in the history of the school. Graduates included 19 cum laude, with grade point averages from 3.1 to 3.33 on a 4.0 scale; 23 at magna cum laude, with grade points from 3.33 to 3.67, 24 at summa cum laude, with grade point averages of 3.67 or higher, 23 honors diplomas, with 27 credits and a GPA of 3.33 on additional upper level courses, and 24 with high honors, with a GPA of 28 credits and a GPA of at least 3.67 on upper level courses.

Others in the class included three and four-year graduates who chose not to participate, and those in the MoOp program.

Williams said teachers characterized the class with words such as "easy going," "accepting" and "eclectic." He urged the graduates to hang on to those qualities, noting that an eclectic group reflects its strength.

Williams introduced the top 10 percent of the class and their parents, offering future plans. He then introduced the two class speakers, who volunteered from the top 10 percent and were selected by a vote of that group.

John Schupbach began his address by quoting Plato, talking about Socrates receiving the designation as a corruptor of youth for questioning all things. Schupbach focused on Socrates' goal to seek understanding, and philosopher Descartes' solution of "I think, therefore I am" as one answer. Through the ability to read and learn, Schupbach argued, "we find ourselves."

Seeking the meaning of life, Schupbach asserted it is easy to lose one's self or become overwhelmed by freedom. Still, the choices offered between absolutes seemed perhaps unfair and out of reach.

"We are certainly free to choose good and evil, love and hate, but why is it that these are the options we are given?" he said. "We can choose from options and relentlessly build our own future."

Schupbach looked for something reliable that would endure, and chose love as that standard.

"Theologically, love has always stood among the Commandments, but evidently, it just makes sense," he said. "When we help others, we help ourselves. The survival of humanity rests in the truth of love. Think of the moments that truly gave you life. Perhaps it is these moments of love that we have been searching for all along."

Trey Johnson, the second speaker, returned to the specifics of the high school experience. He noted Coach Bob Crain, who taught world history, convinced them that Coldplay and "Hello" by Adele are just as important as the reign of Genghis Khan. On his own, Johnson learned that getting dropped on one's head while crowd surfing only enhanced one's experience.

Johnson urged his classmates to remember the good times they had shared and the difficulties they had managed. He recounted experiencing his father's hospitalizations then unexpected death, and how he wrestled with filling his shoes.

"There are times that make you want to just sit down and give up because the weight of everything is just too much," Johnson said. "Often times, myself included, we fail to realize the beauty in our struggles, that they always make us stronger. Always be grateful for the little things that push you to a new day."

Johnson suggested there are times to "see where the wave takes you." High school, he suggested, taught classmates how to struggle and endure.

"It's easy to be caught in the loop of difficulties, but when you break that loop, you finally find peace in knowing that what you learned in struggle will always push you to be a better person tomorrow," he concluded.

Superintendent Brad Hanson, who usually makes a graduation address, instead offered congratulations "for making it to the end of your formative years." He then introduced the Profile of a Graduate graphic and played the video prepared by GO CAPS students, completing the year-long process shaping and articulating what the school district seeks to achieve in preparing students for going beyond high school.

The video featured a range of community leaders, such as Darren Bass as Cox Monett Hospital president and Donna Beckett as Community National Bank vice president, speaking about the qualities they as employers expect to see from graduates.

"We've done the best we can do to prepare you," Hanson said to the graduates. "We can't wait to see what you will become. Are you ready?"

With that, the class came forward, as names were called by Assistant Principal Stephanie Heman, to receive diplomas. Each of the classmates facing physical handicaps received standing ovations from their classmates.

Following the presentation of diplomas, the graduates turned their tassels. At the invitation of Williams, graduates and the audience sang the school toast, after which the students threw their mortar board hats to signify high school had concluded.

An extended reception followed in the commons room.

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