Steelville’s Class of 2014 celebrated their graduation from high school on Friday, May 9. Fifty-seven seniors received their diplomas as they walked across the stage in front of cheering friends and family members who packed the Paul E. Simmons Auditorium.
During her welcome to those gathered for the commencement ceremony, Senior Class President Rachel Stice challenged her classmates, and all those present, to do their best to understand and help others. She noted that the students’ time in school had been “time well spent in learning more about who we are and who we want to be.” She concluded her remarks by saying, “I wish you the best—not the second best—but the best.”
This year’s valedictorian was Alyssa Forbes, and salutatorian was Jessica Helms. Each gave speeches during the graduation ceremony.
Forbes’ valedictory address was titled “Be Legendary,” based on the lyrics of a song by a band called The Summer Set. She told her classmates, “To me, a legend is someone who strives to achieve his or her goals to the point where nothing can stop them. A legend is fearless, unbreakable, wise, passionate, someone who is not going to be discouraged by anyone. A legend has a positive impact on others and will leave behind a legacy of greatness. This isn’t about becoming famous, it’s about being worth remembering and being inspirational in all that you do. No matter what you’re headed toward in the future, aim for the highest of stars. Be legendary and make every piece of your life count.”
Forbes spoke about the legends in the small town of Steelville, including a number of teachers who have made a great impact on their students, as well as her family.
In Helms’ speech, she also expressed appreciation for the support of teachers and family members. She said, “We will miss our friends, teachers, and family, but there are great things in our future—like moving out, ramen noodles and attempting to do our own laundry!” In addition to the humorous remarks, she talked about recognizing the value of a small town. “Hopefully, all of us can look back on all the fun times we had in Steelville,” she said. “We have such a great town where the rodeo and fair are the most important events, and no one hesitates to help you when you’re in trouble.”
Also during the graduation ceremony, SHS Principal Tana Booker recognized the Scholastic Honors Group—the students who achieved the top ten grade point averages during their academic career. They were: Logan Billingsley , Kourtney Carey, Lela Chambers, Tyler Ensor, Alyssa Forbes, Jessica Helms, Shelby Hemby, Marty Irvin, Samantha Newland, and Shelby Wynn.
The “Distinguished Educator of the Year” was also recognized. Each year, SHS seniors select a teacher or staff member to receive this award. Each student is asked to nominate a teacher or staff member that has been influential in their education; someone that has made a difference. This year, 19 individuals were nominated to receive the award, but only one can be selected. The award went to Christine Santhuff. Specific comments made about her included, “She is an amazing teacher and person,” “She always wants us to succeed,” “She cares about all her students. I loved cooking and preparing foods in her class,” “For the past four years she has done so much for our class. Without her, we would not have accomplished all we have,” and “She is like my mom at school.”
Booker also offered some final suggestions to the Class of 2014. She told them not to grow up too fast—encouraging them to “slow down and enjoy every day of your life, because you will never get any of those days back.” Another encouragement was to “Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail. If you don’t take risks, you will never reach your full potential, and you also won’t have much fun!” She told them to “Believe in something. If you are not passionate about something in your life, you are missing something important. Find something to believe in, and when you do, work for it, and sacrifice for it.” Booker noted that to have good friends, they had to first be a good friend. And she encouraged the graduates to give something back. “Do something useful with your lives. This is one sure way to give something back to those who have loved and supported you,” she said.
TOP TWO FOR 2014
The SHS Class of 2014 Valedictorian is Alyssa Forbes. Alyssa is the daughter of Keith and Dailene Forbes. Alyssa is ranked number one in her class with a GPA of 4.3. She has also been very dedicated to her academic studies throughout her four years of high school.
Alyssa has extremely high expectations and has worked very hard to earn this honor. She has been involved in many clubs and organizations while attending SHS including National Honor Society, Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America, Leadership Committee, Math and Science Club, and Foreign Language Club. She has held many offices while in high school, including Class Vice-President, National Honor Society Vice-President, and flute section leader. Alyssa has received many honors and awards the past four years including the President’s Award for Educational Excellence & Achievement, the George Washington Carver Award, student of the month, and Principal’s Honor Roll.
Alyssa has also been recognized for her musical talent, and was selected to participate in both the conference and district band. Alyssa was recently awarded several scholarships at the Senior Awards Ceremony including one from Arizona State University, the National City Scholarship, the Three Rivers Publishing Scholarship, the Steelville Presbyterian Church Deacon Scholarship, the Math and Science Club Scholarship, the C.F. Robertson Scholarship/MFA Oil, the Hagan Scholarship Foundation, the Chymiak Family Foundation, and the Arthur J. Zahorsky Scholarship. In the fall, Alyssa will be attending Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
The Class of 2014 Salutatorian is Jessica Helms. She is the daughter of Rodney and Michelle Helms. Jessica is ranked second in her class with a GPA of 4.2. Throughout her four years at SHS, she committed a lot of energy and effort to her academic studies.
Jessica has received numerous awards throughout high school, including the President’s Award for Educational Excellence & Achievement, the George Washington Carver Award, the Missouri State Multicultural Leadership Award, student of the month, and Principal’s Honor Roll.
She was recently awarded several scholarships at the Senior Awards Ceremony including the Katherine Howald Kenagy Memorial Scholarship, the James B. Perkins memorial Scholarship, the Steelville Activities Scholarship, the Chymiak Family Foundation Scholarship, the Crawford County Foundation Scholarship, the Paul E. Simmons Memorial Scholarship, the Steelville Sports Club Scholarship, the Peoples Bank Scholarship, the Hagan Foundation Scholarship, and the Missouri State Dean’s Scholarship. Jessica has also been very involved in athletics.
She has participated in volleyball, softball and basketball. This fall she plans to attend Missouri State University and major in Business Finance.