BELLVILLE — With family, friends, teachers and school administrators looking on, 136 graduates walked onto the Clear Fork football field Friday evening to accept their diplomas and turn their tassels, beginning their new post-high school lives.
The beautiful weather of the evening allowed the commencement ceremonies to be held outside, where rows of graduates in green and white robes filled chairs lined up to face their families in the bleachers.
Principal Brian Brown welcomed the crowd, congratulating the members of the 2009 girls softball team, who won their state semifinal softball game earlier in the evening.
“Before we begin I’m going to begin with the three words that have been on everyone’s minds all day — go Lady Colts,” he said to the crowd. Members of the team wearing cap and gown had black smudges under their eyes marking them as Lady Colts.
The 14 students who comprised the top 10 percent of the class academically were recognized by name as they stood and were honored. Scholarship winners and other senior awards had been presented to the class in a separate ceremony held Thursday evening at the school.
Senior Jessica Miller played “Dust In the Wind” on the keyboard. Other special music during the commencement was provided by Mariah Doup and Kristen Hoffert, who sang a duet rendition of “The Climb.”
The Clear Fork High School Band, under the direction of Jason Brasure, also provided music during the graduation service.
Commencement speakers Ashley Calhoon and McKinley Green spoke to the crowd about their high school experience, the people in their lives who they credited with their success, and their aspirations for the future.
Calhoon said she has discovered differences between happiness and joy.
“Happiness is only temporary,” she explained. “Joy is a profound passion that keeps us anchored.
“There is only one high power that can bring us complete and absolute joy, his name is Jesus Christ,” she continued.
Green, who served as the 2009 senior class president, added humor to his remarks, which were filled with thanks for those who helped him develop as a student and as a person.
He congratulated his classmates, telling the crowd that 75 percent of this year’s student class had plans to continue some kind of education or training.
“We are a hard-working class,” he said. “We will advance into this world prepared to conquer it.”
Green thanked the parents, teachers and administrators present.
“You have succeeded in transforming us,” he said with a smile.
After the speeches, Brown certified the class, and students began walking toward the podium to accept their diplomas. They shook hands, exchanged hugs and waved at family members as cameras snapped throughout the bleachers and on the field. Green then led the class in turning the tassels.