(Staff photo by Lecia Forester)
The graduation ceremony began as students made their way onto the field to the sounds of the grand march from "Aida" by Giuseppe Verdi.
Chosen as Valedictorian of the graduating class was Penny Barrera who was also chosen as one of the featured speakers for the evening.
She is the 18 year-old daughter of Phillip and Maria Barrera. During her years at KHS, Barrera was a member of the Student Council and served at Senior Class president. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, K Club and Art Club. She also served as a Quiz Bowl member, was in the KHS Varsity Choir and had roles in both the fall and spring musicals as well as being a member of the KHS Track and Field Team. As for Barrera's future plans, she is currently undecided on where she will be attending school in the fall.
Chosen as Salutatorian for the graduating class was Jill Nicole Niemeier. She is the 18-year-old daughter of Donna Gill and Mark Niemeier.
During her time at KHS, her activities included Key Club secretary, Key Club executive committee, National Honor Society, KHS Amateur Radio Club president, KHS Tennis Team, Yearbook staff, Tatler staff, Quiz Bowl team, Class President, Student Council representative, KHS Varsity Choir, Cast of Dracula, Beauty and the Beast, Twelve Angry Jurors, and Grease, Spanish Club, SWAT Christian Fellowship Club, SEMO Science Fair participant. Niemeier is also a member of the First Baptist Church Youth Group.
Her future plans are to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and major in Chemistry.
Following the processional and before diplomas were handed out, Senior Jennifer Tibbs gave the invocation and Superintendent Chris Wilson introduced the students chosen to speak at this year's event. Speakers included Penny Barrera, Montrel Childress, Adam Grantham, and Haley Henderson.
The first to speak was Barrera. During her remarks, Barrera first took the class down memory lane, going back to the first day of their Freshman year. She remembered the clothes she wore and how nervous she was about being on an unfamiliar campus, about wanting to be with old friends and feeling intimidated by upperclassmen. She added that although they were "little fishes in a big sea," eventually they found their way.
"We created new friendships, discovered new interests, worked for success, learned from mistakes and shared many experiences that have shaped us. Experiences that have changed us. Experiences that have made us the young men and women we are now," she said, quoting Winston Churchill, 'Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is courage that counts.' It takes courage and considerable amount of optimism to continue on our journey and face what lies ahead for what lies ahead is our future."
Barrera then talked of those people who had touched each of their lives, saying, " To everyone, thank you for these past four years, the greatest experience I have had thus far, and one I will certainly remember for the rest of my life."
In closing, Barrera left her classmates with these words, "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become."
Next to speak was Montrel Childress. He is the 17 year-old son of Maxine Childress. During his tenure at KHS, he has been an active member of the K Club, Key Club, SWAT, Spanish Club, Student Council, FBLA, FCCLA, and The Tribe, The Tatler and the yearbook staff. He also sang in the KHS Varsity Choir and was a cast member of the school's fall and spring plays as well as attending Missouri Boys State this past summer. Childress is a member of the First United Methodist Church youth group where he serves on the Conference Council and youth ministries. After high school, Childress plans on attending Three Rivers College on a music scholarship, later on transferring to Missouri State University where he will major in Forensic Science and minor in Music.
To begin his talk, Childress first opened with a poem that he had written entitled, "The Indian Experience." He then talked of what he remembered about KHS.
"I don't think of track meets, dances, or choir competitions. I think of students and teachers with troubled hearts, who came to school every day with a huge smile on their face, ready to work, and with that, nothing can destroy their spirit."
Next he talked of how he thought KHS had helped them, including the career center that had taught them valuable skills and the Key Club which taught values of service to the community.
"Kennett has continued achievements in the areas of athletics, the drama department and academics. It's proven that as a community, we can perform miracles," he said, adding, "Let us continue our voyage, reaching for the stars and never settling for less."
He next issued a challenge to his classmates.
"We are each given one life with which to make a difference. Fellow graduates, what will you do with yours?"
Continuing, he noted, "We have the power to do anything, to achieve everything, and soar beyond all expectations."
In closing, Childress said, "We are the graduating class of 2012- strong, intelligent, and prepared to take the world by storm. Ready or not, here we come."
The third speaker of the evening was Adam Grantham, 18 year-old son of Keith and Beth Grantham. During his time at KHS, he has been a member of the football, basketball, and baseball teams, as well as an active member of Student Council and the National Honor Society where he served as vice-president. Other organizations he was also a member of include Key Club, K Club, FBLA, as well as serving on the staff of The Tatler and yearbook staff. After graduation, Grantham plans on attending Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark., on a baseball scholarship, majoring in accounting.
Grantham began his speech with a word of thanks to all the teachers, faculty, staff and parents.
"The Class of 2012 and I would like to express our gratitude. Without your help and support, we would not be sitting here tonight."
He next talked of the journey they have all taken the past 13 years and how time has gone by so quickly.
"We have completed this chapter in our lives. As we look back and reflect on our school years, it will be clear that these years molded us into the young adults we will become. A countless number of memories were made," he said, later remarking, "I will never forget the people I made these memories with, and I will never forget this place."
Grantham told classmates to always remember the past but look to the future, noting, "It is time to start a new chapter in this book that we call our lives, and that new chapter starts tonight at this very moment."
He asked the question of how to build a future and still fulfill their potential. In answer to this, Grantham quoted Tim Tebow, "Success comes in a lot of ways, but it doesn't come with money and it doesn't come with fame. It comes from having meaning in your life, doing what you love and being passionate about what you do. That's having a life of success. When you have the ability to do what you love, love what you do, and have the ability to impact people. That's having a life of success. That's what having a life of meaning is."
In parting, Grantham said, "Remember the past, enjoy this moment, and remember who you are. These will be the important keys for the future. Set your goals high, and always try to exceed them. Create the future you want, and find your success. Thank you and God Bless."
The last speaker was 18 year-old Haley Henderson, daughter of Cindy and David Henderson. Activities Henderson was involved with at KHS included membership of the K Club, Key Club, Spanish Club, FBLA, The Tribe, and Student Council. Henderson also served as Captain of the cheerleading squad this year. Other activities include being a member of the KHS Varsity Choir and involvement in four KHS musicals. She plans on attending the University of Missouri.
Henderson began her speech by also talking of how quickly the time had passed.
"Well guys, I never thought I would be up here speaking to you all one day, but then again, I never though this day would come as fast as it has. Here I am, and here you all are. What happened?"
She talked of being a freshman and roaming the halls of KHS, trying to figure out where her classes were and not wanting to part with familiar friends.
"In life, you have nothing and then you grow and you start a journey of your own of what you want out of life. That's the question, what do we want out of life?"
Henderson noted that this was their starting point.
"Where do we want to go? Who do we want to be beside us as we go on our journey? How will we change? And who will change?," she asked, later remarking, "We all pretend like we are so excited and that we will not shed a tear, even I have said it over and over again, but face it, 75 percent of us deep down know that sadness is filling up our hearts as we speak."
She next talked of how the class had been together for 18 years, seeing each other every day of their lives.
"We probably know each other better than we know some of our family. We have been each other's family."
Henderson thanked the people who are here and those who are not. She talked of the strong support of both of her parents and how they never gave up on her, always making her believe, "I could do anything that I set my mind to."
She next thanked her teachers at KHS for helping her get to where she is going in life.
In remembrance of her grandfather, she said, "I have to give thanks to my grandpa, Bud Henderson, for giving me the knowledge, 'That if it is going to be, it's up to me.'"
In closing, Henderson thanked her friends for making her believe in true friendship through the good and bad times as well as a wonderful woman who made here realize how much she needed her mother and father in her life.
She left with these parting words from Lindsey Pruett, "It's not good-bye. It's see you later."
Following remarks from the speakers and the presentation of diplomas, awards and scholarships were then given out, which included the following:
* Presentation of the award to the class valedictorian, Penny Barrera, salutatorian, Jill Niemeier, and best all-around student, Adam Grantham by Lisa Johnson, president of the Kennett Chamber of Commerce;
* The Bish Rainey Memorial Scholarship, presented to Madison Bryant and Chad Stanley by Chris Wilson, superintendent;
* The James Singleton Scholarship Award presented to Jade Caldwell, alternate was Tyler Limbaugh by Sol Astrachan;
* The John M. Dalton Educational Trust Fund presented by Johnny Dalton to Haley Simmons, alternate was Logan Dollins;
* John W. and Lorene Trovillion Education Scholarship presented by Bob Holder to Alexandria Washburn, Jill Niemeier, Caleb Carter, alternate was Jade Caldwell;
* Kennett A+ Schools Grant presented by Julie Dunn, A+ Schools coordinator, to Jonathan Brown, Mackenzie Carr, Erin Dye, Ashley Finney, Mallory Lancaster, Pedro Moreno, Brandy Moss, Morgan Pickens, Ryne Pullin, Chelsea Singleton, Justin Smith, Shelby Spence, Jennifer Tibbs, Corbin Wake, Alexandria Washburn and Matthew Wilburn;
* Kennett Kiwanis/Key Club Dr. George Q. Dunmire Education Scholarship presented by Dustin Harris, president, to Justin Smith, alternate was Erin Dye;
* First National Bank of Kennett Honor Society Scholarship presented by Julie Lynn to Shelby Spence, alternate was Jasmyne Denham;
* Kennett Lion's Club Dr. Paul Baldwin Educational Scholarship presented by Lisa Johnson, president, to Joseph Stillman, alternate was Caleb Carter;
* Kennett National Bank Scholarship presented by Johnny Dalton, board of directors, to Jill Niemeier;
* Kennett Rotary Club Jody Mills Memorial Scholarship presented by Steve Foster, president, to Tyler Limbaugh and Ethan Benson, alternate was Haley Simmons;
* The LaFemme Club Citizenship Award presented by Sara Rhew, member-at-large, to Ryne Pullin, alternates were Haley Henderson and Jonathan Rooney;
* Permanent Membership in National Honor Society presented by Jay Edgington, president elect, to NHS were Penny Barrera, Ethan Benson, Madison Bryant, Jade Caldwell, Mackenzie Carr, Shaneikwa Davis, Jasmyne Denham, Jeffrey Dollins, Erin Dye, Janeisha Gooden, Adam Grantham, Katline Jarred, Mallory Lancaster, Andrea Lawson, Tyler Limbaugh, Pedro Moreno, Raina Neal, Jill Niemeier, Morgan Pickens, Ryne Pullin, Haley Simmons, Justin Smith, Matthew Snipes, Shelby Spence, Chad Stanley, Joseph Stillman, Jennifer Tibbs, Alexandria Washburn;
* Recognition Scholarship presented by Chris Wilson, superintendent, to Penny Barrera;
* Senath State Bank Mid-County Branch Scholarship presented by Diane Risner, vice-president, to Chelsea Singleton, alternate was Mallory Lancaster;
* Kennett Community Teachers Association Scholarship presented by Tina Brown, president, to Morgan Pickens, alternate was Mackenzie Carr and Adam Grantham;
* Tungsiripat Scholarship presented by David Gilmore, principal of KHS, to Penny Barrera;
* Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center Medical Scholarship presented by Ken James, chief executive officer, to Jade Caldwell and alternate, Janeisha Gooden;
* Kennett Jaycees Fred Calhoun Memorial Scholarship presented by Chris Foulks, to Justin Smith;
* Kennett Jaycees Scholarship presented by Chris Foulks to Jonathan Rooney.
The closing benediction was given by Jonathan Rooney, a member of the senior class.