MARYVILLE, Mo. — Maryville High School gained nearly 100 new alums during Sunday afternoon’s graduation ceremony.
Bearcat Arena was filled by “Pomp and Circumstance,” performed by the Maryville High School Band as graduates walked in to find their seats under the bright lights and happy faces of proud parents, grandparents, siblings and friends.
Maryville High School Principal Thom Alvarez welcomed the audience to the ceremony before introducing the first speaker senior Truett Haer.
Haer spoke about the vital aspects of letting go of their high school experiences to create new ones.
“Do not fear the uncertainty as you let go of high school structure,” Haer told his class. “But accept this newfound freedom presented to you. … Not dwelling on the past is an essential aspect of living up to your potential.”
He said that failing to let go of the past or past mistakes will hinder them making future progress.
“While letting go of the past we free ourselves to live in the present and look forward to the future,” he said. “It takes practice to let go of the past, but it’s a necessary step toward personal growth.”
He said that he will always remember his time, but that what makes life precious is that it is temporary, that nothing lasts forever.
“If I could only offer one piece of advice, class, it would be to enjoy the present,” Haer said. “... Live in the moment and don’t take it for granted.
“As we bid farewell to high school, let’s release ourselves from the fear of uncertainty. Let’s remember to let go of the past and let us overcome self doubt and be willing to embrace new opportunities. Letting go of high school does not mean forgetting our memories or the lessons we’ve learned, but rather it means acknowledging the high school has served its purpose of shaping us into who we are today.”
Senior Drew Burns also spoke to the crowd about the class’s destination.
“While we venture to this next chapter, let us remember that the destination is not the sole focus,” he said. “It is the journey. The experiences, the lessons ... and the triumphs that truly shapes us.”
He told his class that they will encounter obstacles and doubt, but that resilience and the knowledge gained in school is key to success.
“Our destination will be a place where we contribute to society and where our talents are recognized and utilized,” Burns said. “And where we become the architects of our own success.
“Our destination will be a place where innovation flourishes, where we take risks, learn from failures, and celebrate our triumphs. It’ll be a place where we defy expectation and inspire others to dream big. Regardless of the path we choose, what truly matters is we remain committed to our personal growth, learning and the pursuit of our passions.”
He said that in this age of rapid change and endless possibilities it is crucial that they maintain lifelong learning and continue on a path of intellectual curiosity and personal development.
“Furthermore, as we pursue our own individual destinations, let us not forget that we are not isolated beings,” Burns said. “We are part of the larger, interconnected tapestry of humanity.”
Maryville High School Spectrum, joined by senior singers and led by Vocal Music Director Vanessa Parsons, then performed “Imagine,” by Jay Althouse and “You Will Be Found” arranged by Mac Huff.
Graduate Jewl Galapin then spoke to her class about the memories shaped during their time at MHS.
“High school is a time in our lives we will always remember,” she said.
She said that it was a formative period where the class grew, learned and were supported. She said relationships were created and many will remain.
Galapin noted that she was inspired by so many teachers who taught her to think critically while balancing school and extracurriculars.
“There were moments of stressful anxiety,” she said. “... There were times when we felt overwhelmed … but looking back at the experiences, we were taught resilience, perseverance and the importance of asking for help when we need it.”
Galapin said the graduates should be proud of their accomplishments and hold onto the memories made.
“This place will always hold a special place in our hearts,” she said. “... These past few years have gone way too fast. Many memories were made. So let’s celebrate those memories.”
Graduate Halle Wilson spoke to the audience and her class about reflecting on the difference between today and tomorrow.
“Today we celebrate years of hard work and dedication,” she said. “Today we end one chapter of our lives, while it’s only the beginning of another.”
She said today they’re entering the world as well-rounded citizens.
“But what about tomorrow?” she asked. “Tomorrow’s a new day, a new beginning, a new adventure. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. … Tomorrow’s the day we make a difference in the world.”
Wilson told the class that tomorrow is when they take the lessons learned at MHS and apply them to their lives.
“Today’s a day we celebrate, but tomorrow’s where we truly shine,” she said. “So let’s embrace today and glance toward tomorrow with hope and determination.
“Thank you to all the friends and family who have supported us throughout the most awkward four years of our lives. I know everyone’s ready to celebrate, but I ask one more thing. Please be safe tonight in spirit of not wasting your tomorrows. Congratulations Class of 2023.”
Alvarez shared a quote from Charlotte Eriksson that he said that while important for everyone, is especially so for young people starting their lives.
“Find what makes you happy and go for it with all your heart. It will be hard, but I promise it will be worth it.”
Alvarez asked that the class try to remember these words as they find their way in the world.
“No matter what path you choose after high school, surround yourself with positive people and find what makes you happy,” he said.