Wright City graduates hopeful, but sad to say goodbye

STOP FOR A SELFIE — A group of Wright City seniors took a minute to get a selfie before their graduation ceremony on June 4. Pictured, from left, are A'merie Henke, Evelyn Bruno, Jordyn Callahan, Emily Schanuel. Adam Rollins photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Wright City High School’s graduating class of 113 seniors gathered as a complete group one last time on June 4 to commemorate the achievement of finishing high school. The graduation ceremony, held on the high school’s athletics field, was a time for celebration. But for many it was also a bittersweet goodbye as students depart for new opportunities in faraway places.

“It just came too fast. It just doesn’t feel real at all,” commented  Jordan Birkner. “At the end of this summer I’m leaving to go up near Kansas City for two years to learn HVAC. I feel like all my friends are all going to different places. I’m gonna try to stay in touch, but it’s hard when everybody has different lives.”

“You grow up with these people, and once you go off to the real world, you’ll probably never see them again, or you’ll see them here or there,” said senior Eathan Noah. “You never realize how close you are to the people around you until the last few weeks of high school.”

Still, many seniors showed excitement to reach the graduation milestone and enthusiasm for what comes next. The official student speakers for the ceremony spent time looking to both the past and the future, acknowledging the memories the classmates share and celebrating where their achievements would take them in life. The COVID pandemic also loomed large over their commemoration.

“This class has shown great character, like no other before,” said Class President Reagan Charlesworth. “We made it through the pandemic. This class has worked hard to make the best of the worst situation, and we succeeded in everything we put our minds to.

“I hope each of you try to create the world you want to live in, to the very best of what you have ... and if you don’t like how things are, change them,” she told her classmates. “Now let’s go out into the adult world and make this the best start to the rest of our lives.”

Fellow speaker Alex Polston added many of his own memories of individual classmates and teachers. “I never believed anyone when they said everything would fly by. For the first time, I’ll admit: I was wrong,” Polston joked. He complimented his classmates on all they had achieved through significant challenge, and said he looks forward to seeing what everyone becomes in the future.

Polston’s departing advice: “Be phenomenal, or be forgotten.”

Students also heard from faculty and administrators, imparting a few last pieces of advice as they sent their students into the world. The student-selected faculty speaker was Shannon Wells, who described how a championship loss from his own high school baseball career had taught him to pick himself up from mistakes and failures, and strive for better things in the future.

Principal Matt Brooks, in his address, celebrated the personal, athletic and academic successes of the senior class this year, and thanked all the parents and community members who have supported the school. He shared thoughts that he had written at the beginning of the school year as he considered the school's many challenges, and said the students might face their own challenges in the future.

“Class of 2021, I encourage you, when you come to the edge of a precipice in your life beyond WCHS ... think and plan, seeking the advice of those you trust. Then make a decision that will move yourself and others forward,” Brooks advised.

Perhaps the shortest remarks came from district Superintendent Chris Berger, who is finishing his first year in Wright City. He expressed gratitude for the community and students he has come to know.

Berger remarked to the students, “My only regret is that I didn’t get to be here earlier to see you develop.”

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