Mercer County celebrates graduation

Cala Smoldt/Correspondent

An empty chair was left in the front row at the commencement ceremony at Mercer County High School in honor of classmate Nathan Robertson who lost his life to cancer. Principal Stacey Day told the graduates, “Nathan wouldn’t want you to be sad on a day like today. He would want you to celebrate today and all that it took for you to get here. So don’t be sad, be happy, be excited and look forward to what the future holds for each and every one of you.”

Mrs. Day concluded, “Today we celebrate this great group of students and all of their hard work.”

Senior Class President Matthew Weeks said, “Our class has had so many accomplishments both in the classroom and out…. We seem to be well-prepared for success.” He said he is confident the best times are yet to come.

Superintendent of Schools Alan Boucher said, “For the last 13 years your family and community have invested a lot of resources and a lot of effort in making sure you are prepared for this very day.”

He told the graduates they have worked hard and persevered.. He said every graduate has demonstrated they possess the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the 21st century.

“I want to congratulate you class of 2015, you are prepared, you are ready, and we’re excited for you.”

The top ten stood to a round of applause as Assistant Principal Nat Zunkel introduced the top 10 in alphabetical order. They are: Christian James Aldinger, Austin Cole Jackson, Maura Helen Karr, Jase Connor Krstic, McKayla Patrice Partlow, Jenna Christine Rilllie, Jeremy Lee Soseman, Bailey Noel Swanson, Hannah Marie Terrill, and Clayton Graham Truman.

“Everyone in this room has had an impact on the success of our academic careers thus far,” said Salutatorian Maura Karr, “More than just a simple thank you is owed to all of you.” She thanked the graduate’s parents for their sacrifices that have brought them to this day. Karr thanked the teachers for the opportunity to work hard, she said, “The teachers of this district have shaped us to be the students we are today.

I hope we leave today knowing this is not the end of something great, but the beginning of something much greater.”

Valedictorian Clayton Truman concluded the ceremony by thanking the graduate’s family and friends for attending the commencement ceremony.

He said the main lessons he has learned are, “to always do my very best and to respect everyone as we are all equal… As John Deere said, ‘I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me,’ and neither should you.”

He admonished his peers that, “Hard work, determination and drive are the keys to success…. And I know this because, I stand before you as Valedictorian, not because I’m the smartest one in our class, but because I set a goal and let nothing get in my way of stopping me from achieving it…

Anyone can do anything they set their minds to regardless of how many times they fail, and so can you.”

Truman said people are equal, “Regardless of what people do for a living, it does not define who a person is. It does not make them good or bad.”

He ended by wishing his peers the best of luck and reminding them, “When the going gets tough never lose sight of your dream or goal.