RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — Forty-six blue irises spread through the Russellville gymnasium watered by tears of joy as the Russellville High School graduating seniors presented flowers to their parents May 12 in thanks for everything family members did to help achieve their high school diplomas.
The class enters the next stage of life with about 70 scholarships aiding 31 students in receiving their higher education.
Tristin Little is set to enter the U.S. Air Force and Liam Davis has signed up to join the U.S. Coast Guard. Twelve students plan to enter the workforce, and Melody Padilla will attend the Grabber School of Hair Design.
Teacher of the Year Sean Lovelace opened the ceremony, saying the class has been an amazing group of people and thanked them for all of the wonderful moments they shared in his life.
"I just wanted to say one final time, I love you guys," Lovelace said to warm applause from the students.
Salutatorian Rayni Hartman urged her classmates to focus on their futures and persevere through any hardships that are sure to come in one form or another.
"Class of 2018, I hope you step forward. Don't be afraid. Be confident in yourselves and go out and see what the world has to offer, because I'm certain that this class has a lot to offer the world," she said.
Valedictorian Anna Koestner thanked everyone in her life including the rest of her classmates and school staff members for helping them reach graduation. Like her father, who asked her to pick up rocks from the field to build character, she said it is important for the graduates to show drive and work hard, even when such things may not always be fully appreciated.
"We must know that in life nothing will come easy, and at times, we will have to do things that absolutely suck," she said. But she ended with this determination, the students could accomplish anything.
Sara Brandt and Brittney Sauer harmonized on a rendition of "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You," which included a melody that seemed to reflect the bittersweet nature of moving on to a new phase in life.
Like the class of 2018 motto says, "We've walked so far together. We've grown so very close. But yesterday became today and we are on the verge of tomorrow, where we must go alone to find the dreams we all dream of together."