PRAIRIE HOME -- A teacher reminded 11 Prairie Home R-V School graduates of her love for them before they moved their tassels from right to left, making their transition out of high school.
Before the graduates received their diplomas, school officials highlighted the graduates' accomplishments during the commencement ceremony at Prairie Home R-V School. Eighth-grade graduates also received time in the limelight, receiving certificates marking their own transition from middle school to high school.
Diana Norris, counselor, named Hailey Milne as the graduating class's valedictorian, followed by Grace Hodges as salutatorian. Norris also said Hodges was the first graduate from the district to be recognized for having a perfect academic record throughout high school, receiving straight As from ninth through 12th grades.
"As someone who gets to see everybody's grades, I can tell you that this class has some pretty impressive transcripts," said Diana Norris, Prairie Home R-V counselor.
Marie Pope, a seventh- through 12th-grade science teacher and coach for track and cross country, recalled her favorite memories from the past six years of working with the class before giving them three pieces of advice: Love what you do, love who you're with and remember those that love you.
"Honestly, I believe the most important thing I can tell you on this wonderful, exciting day is that we love you," she said. "It sounds silly; You've heard it from your parents, your family, your friends, maybe even me once or twice. But it's true."
Pope told the graduates to find something they enjoy doing and continue doing it, recalling her own experience of going from working in a laboratory to becoming a high school science teacher. She said the people in your life also make a difference, discussing the student's impacts in her own life.
"Many of you know that I have a running book in my room and a lot of the hilarious things that get said in my class or during practice, or walking the halls, makes it into that book," Pope said. "And quite a few of you sitting before me (are) featured largely in that whole book. On my absolute worst days of teaching, I open that document, I pick a page, and I start scrolling. ... I loved nearly every moment with you. I loved hearing your funny stories, having you drop in my room randomly throughout the day. I loved helping you with college classes and scholarships, and applying to jobs and universities. I've loved your passion, I've loved your feistiness. I loved every 'Hear me out' along the way. Each of you has made me laugh more times than I can count, and I thank you for that. Everyday after school I find the best part of my day and I share it with my family. You guys are the best part of my day."
Pope told the graduates to look around and remember all of those who supported and loved them, and that those people knew what the graduates were capable of.
"Just, if you happen to take this moment at the top of the stairs, make sure to look back down before you take your first step," she said. "You might notice already, but those that love you have the highest expectations of you."
Ten of the 11 graduates are eligible for the A+ Scholarship. According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, students must graduate with at least a 2.5 grade-point average (GPA), have at least 95 percent attendance throughout high school, perform at least 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring, stay out of legal trouble while abstaining from alcohol and drugs, and received a proficient or advanced score on Algebra I or higher-level mathematics end-of-course exam.
Sheila Williams, a Prairie Home booster club representative, awarded Kamden Holliday and Madison Brown with $250 scholarships from the booster club. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a senior with a 3.0 GPA or greater, participate in at least one sport and complete an application.
Norris awarded many other scholarships to students, including the American Red Cross Scholarship, Beta Club Scholarship, Bruner Family Scholarship, Bunceton Masonic Lodge Scholarship, Prairie Home Lions Club Scholarship, Norman Odneal Memorial Scholarship by the Boonville Rotary Club, Poindexter Scholarship in memory of Robert Lacy and Prairie Home Community Teachers Association scholarship. William Wright, a graduate intending to study welding at the State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, was awarded a $1,000 tuition waiver for the technical school. Norris said Tripp Kendrick, who is also intending to study welding at State Technical College of Missouri, was randomly selected for a $750 scholarship because of the class's high completion rate of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process.
After receiving their diplomas, they watched a brief compilation video by senior Kamden Holliday. They then lined up for one final photo together before leaving the school.