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Be a good example, a good winner and show everyone you're a Blue Jay by being kind, a hard worker and a good friend.

Commencement speaker Barbara Whittle gave the advice to High Point R-3 eighth-grade graduates May 13 as the 10 students prepared for their next step: high school.

Before the awards for hard work and diplomas for completion were presented to the students, each graduate left the stage to present their parents flowers of appreciation. Hugs, kisses and maybe a few tears were exchanged between the pairs.

Kerry Eidson presented each graduate awards for their accomplishments while in middle school. Those accomplishments recognized hard work and dedication toward band, choir, sports and classwork.

Eidson then presented three Glory of Missouri Virtues to those who were selected. Billi Galliher received knowledge, honor went home to Logan Blankenship and temperance was awarded to Peter Dampf.

This year's High Point salutatorian was Ella Percival. She gave her crowd a bit of a reminder in her speech.

"I was told about three months ago that I would have to give a speech for today," Percival said. "But because I'm a teenager, I forgot."

The joking didn't stop there.

"I looked up what a salutatorian is and the source was from the ever reliable source: the internet," she said. "Urban Dictionary says a salutatorian is someone who missed getting valedictorian by a few points. But that's OK. I did it. I know we're all going our separate ways, but I want to remind everyone of a quote from one of the greatest TV shows of all time. And no, it's not 'Friends.' It goes 'I wish there was a way to know we were in the good old days before we realized we left them."

Valedictorian Billi Galliher followed up Percival's thoughts by thanking her teachers for helping them get to this point.

"Every day, we make choices, but it's all in how we react to them," Galliher said. "I want to give my fellow graduates a challenge: make little choices, because they'll become habits. Because those choices we make today will affect our lives tomorrow."

One choice her peers made was where they will attend high school in the fall. Percival, Grace and Peter Dampf, Chase Robb and Matthew Lietzke will go to California High School; Logan Blankenship and Michael Stark will attend Eldon High School and Sheridan Newman, Galliher and Elijah Shirley will go to Russellville High School.

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