The commencement ceremony for the 2108 graduating class of Ava High School was held Friday, May 11, at the C. E. Harlan Stadium, west of Ava. The ceremony began at 7 p.m., and except for gusty winds, the weather was nearly perfect.
Colonel Scott Nall, a 1981 graduate of Ava High School, was the commencement keynote speaker, and school board president Bart Ellison presented diplomas to the seniors. There are 96 seniors in the 2018 class of graduates.
In his commencement address, Nall advised graduating seniors to stay open to new ideas and pursue a field of interest that will always inspire them to be the best they can be each day. Not to settle for a job they dislike, but to always strive for more.
During the ceremony, senior Hailey Herrell was presented with an associates degree diploma she attained under the Drury dual credit program. Hailey, who is studying behavioral science, had earned 63 college credit hours while also maintaining high school classes and studies, a first time accomplishment at Ava High School. The diploma was awarded by Jacqueline Whiteman, director of the Drury University Ava campus.
Graduates Kathrin Buff and Sara Wake were the selected speakers for the 2018 graduating class. Kathrin is a gold medal senior graduating summa cum laude, with a 4.0 grade point average and above, and Sara is a silver medal graduate, graduating magna cum laude, with a 3.85 to 3.99 grade point average.
As student speakers, both seniors reminisced about their years at Ava, noting special memories of fellow classmates, teachers, and unique learning experiences that occurred during their years at school.
Along with Kathrin Buff, seniors graduating summa cum laude include Savanah Bryan, Rebecca Dudley, Belle Giorgianni, Hannah Griffith, Katelyn Hodges, Madison, Irby, Emily Little, Hailey Pedersen, Joseph Sicilia, Rachel Taylor and Andrew VanValkenburg.
Students graduating magna cum laude, with a 3.85 to 3.99 grade point average, along with Sara Wake, are Kaylee Evans, Aaron Everett, Hailey Herrell, Elizabeth Linder, Logan Little, Marissa Reynolds, Brianna Robertson, Michael Sparnicht, and Hunter Watson.
Students graduating cum laude, with a 3.50 to 3.84 grade point average are Skyla Boyd, Wyatt Gastineau, Abigail Hasley, Liliana Hernandez, Kenneth Kilgore, Quincey McDonald, Ryan McFarlin, Jasper Nelson, Blu Patton, Kelsy Schroeder, Angel Stevens, Braden Swofford, Joseph Swofford, and Elizabeth Tucker.
After graduation, seniors boarded buses for Project Graduation and a night of fun in Branson, at Fritz’s Adventure, and Track Family Fun Park Track #5. Prior to leaving for Branson, however, the graduates regrouped at the PAC building where they had snacks and beverages, and were entertained by a hypnotist. For the night of fun, buses were to arrive at Fritz’s Adventure around 12:15 a.m., for about two hours, and then visit Tracks No. 5 from 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., arriving back in Ava around 6:45 a.m.
On graduation day, seniors began their special day at 8:15 a.m. with a graduation rehearsal at the football field. The rehearsal is followed by the annual senior honor assembly where scholarships and awards are announced and presented. Seniors then participate in a photo session provided by Project Graduation. After lunch, seniors walk the elementary and middle school buildings in cap and gowns. And the school day ends with a 1:30 p.m. senior assembly for graduates and their parents, with all events leading up to the graduation ceremony at 7:00 p.m.
The final day of school for all other students will be Tuesday, May 15, when students are dismissed at 12:45 p.m.