MARION - A rainy afternoon gave way to a pleasant evening Thursday as Marion High School's 133rd annual commencement ceremony went off without a hitch.
Some classic rock got the 3,000-plus that had gathered in the right frame of mind and the MHS band, under the direction of Todd Graham, and choir, under the leadership of Jamie Adams, performed admirably, setting the tone for a successful event.
Salutatorian Alyssa Taylor said the transition from the old high school building to the new one gave the senior class the opportunity to start fresh.
"It also let us look back on how much we grew during those years," she said. "As freshmen, we were hesitant to dress up for homecoming spirit days because we didn't want to be the only ones in costume. Now, we wear bed sheets as togas to basketball games."
Taylor said seniors embraced the new school and the new opportunities it brought with positivity and confidence.
"As we embark on new experiences beyond the doors of Marion High School, I'd like to think that this is how the Class of 2017 will face all of its future endeavors," she said."No matter what path we take, it will be through a new door, and beyond that door a new and intimidating chapter. However, I believe that our experiences here at MHS have prepared us to take on that door that lies ahead."
Valedictorian Anna Bartle said graduation night would quite possible be the last time the entire class is together again.
"We never know what tomorrow holds," she said. "It's funny how at 17 and 18 years old, people expect us to have it figured out, to have a 10-year plan laid out and ready to execute. There is so much pressure put on us at our age. We will be on our own. We will be making our own decisions. We will be searching for who we are and what we want to become.
"We have to go after our own opportunities and take advantage of everything that life throws our way."
Bartle said life is what the graduates make of it.
"We choose our attitude that we live with each day," she said. "Although change is a beautiful thing that progresses our lives, I believe the time we have spent at MHS has prepared us for the rest of our lives."
Bartle (4.48 grade-point-average) will attend Kansas University in the fall. Taylor (4.46 GPA) will attend Indiana.
Here is a breakdown on the eight other top students academically at MHS:
Sarah Diederich (4.43, Washington and Lee of Virginia); Matalin Olson (4.43, Purdue); William Ziehm (4.40, Missouri Science and Technology); Madeline Bruce (4.38, Illinois); Torrie Holst (4.36, North Central); Brynne Massetto (4.36, Saint Louis); Brandon Lynn (4.32, Quincy) and Haylee Quertermous (4.32, Alabama).