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MCHS graduation sends off seniors with inspiring words

by Daniel Bereznicki | May 18, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press MCHS alumnus Joy Hardridge inspired students with an analogy about the endurance and free spirit of a mustang horse and encouraged them to the follow these traits as they progress in life.

ANDERSON -- Families and friends congregated together on Friday, May 12, to witness their loved ones take the next step in their lives at McDonald County High School's graduation. During the ceremony, various speakers shared inspirational words to the senior class of 2023. These included principal Angie Brewer, valedictorian Zoe Renae Thornton, salutatorian Kynnan Hutchinson and MCHS alumnus Joy Hardridge.

The ceremony began as students walked from the high school to the outdoor field at Mustang Stadium where rows of chairs faced the stage platform. Families and friends applauded and stood while drivers on the highway honked their horns in support. It was an exciting time for everyone.

April Saturley is the mother of senior Aurora Celeste Saturley. She wanted to say a few words to her daughter.

"I'm just very proud of her and really thrilled she's graduating," Saturley said.

Student Piper Silvester's family attended the celebration while wearing all matching T-shirts. They also brought a bear that represented her fiance, who tragically died in a car wreck the previous year.

Students, faculty members and an MCHS alumni spoke at the ceremony to say a few inspiring words.

Brewer announced the students in the top 10 percent of the 2023 class. They were Ivy Patrick, Paw Leh Loh, Fayth Ogden, Blaine Ortiz, David Burleson, Jason Winkler, Angel Ruiz, Melysia McCrory, Hay Nay Way, Rylee Patterson, Rony Lopez, Eli Jordan and Bowen Hurley.

Brewer also announced the top 10 students of the class of 2023. They were Quinci Marie Chamberlain, Megan Grace Elwood, Weston Dale Gordon, Hutchinson, Madison Marie Parker, Maggie Elizabeth Pratt, Anna Bella Price, Analisa Marie Ramirez, Kylan Ruth Sherman and Thornton.

During Thorton's speech, she thanked her family, friends, favorite fourth grade teacher and God saying "if it weren't for him, I would not be on this stage today." She spoke about the trials the students faced during the covid-19 pandemic and said that "life is more than ourselves."

"Even though we all have a different idea of our perfect future, it is important to be happy, not be afraid to make mistakes, but also understand life is more than just yourself," said Thornton.

She concluded her speech by saying, "If we begin to put others as a higher priority in our life, we begin to realize that life is about more than just a bad hair day or a loss in a sports game. There are other issues out there that need more attention than ourselves." Then, she said a prayer for her fellow students.

Hutchinson also gave a speech and thanked her family, friends, faculty and the administration for her and her classmates. She acknowledges that without their encouragement and "countless hours" spent shaping them, they would be graduating that day.

She also said a few words of encouragement to her fellow students.

"While you strive towards your goals," Hutchinson said. "I also encourage you to be good people. Live your lives in kindness and honesty. Be helpful and respectful to the people around you. Don't lie or cheat in hopes of achieving your goals faster. Don't bring others down in hopes of building yourself up. Stay true to who you are and always do good. We carry the future in our hands. It is our job to make it better."

Hartridge is a MCHS alumni who reflected on her past experience as a student. She elaborated on the school's mascot and the qualities students should take away from the Mustang horse.

"This is an animal that can be in the wild and survive. It can be tamed, work and survive. It survives, it has a spirit of determination. So Mustangs represents you," said Hartidge. "Graduates, you are Mustangs. That spirit of freedom runs through your veins and beats in your heart. Know that whatever road or path or trail or just open field that lies before you, you choose your destiny. You are resilient together and all of you are invincible."

The ceremony continued as fellow students sang and performed the song "I Lived," which was arranged by Jacob Narverud.

Students were called to the stage and presented with their diplomas. They walked to the edge of the field and tossed their caps into the air which concluded the ceremony. Friends and family gathered and took snapshot to hold on to that memory.

When asked if she would like to say something to her students, Brewer responded.

"I'm so proud of you all. I have loved being your principal and I know that your future is bright."

photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Principal Angie Brewer gave a speech and related how proud she is of her students.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Here are a few of the many students that graduated MCHS on Friday, May 12. Family and friends stand and applaud during the ceremony.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Principal Angie Brewer embraces student Piper Silvester.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Piper Silvester's whole family attended her graduation and wore matching shirts to support her during this happy occasion.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Salutatorian Kynnan Hutchinson is one of the top-ten students for the MCHS senior class of 2023. Here, she gives a speech to her classmates.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Students of the senior class of 2023 perform the song "I lived" which was arranged by Jacob Narverud.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press The graduation ceremony concluded as students toss their caps into the air.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press MCHS recognizes the top-ten students for the senior class of 2023.
photo Daniel Bereznicki/McDonald County Press Here, valedictorian Zoe Renae Thornton gave a speech to her fellow students.

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