Graduates urged to make average life count

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
As their farewell song, the Senior Choir sang “Seasons of Love” from “Rent,” directed by Lauren Lee and accompanied by Dixie Breon. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

Purdy speakers encourage remembrance

Editor's Note: More photos from the graduation may be found at:

Urged to stay grounded and excel in uniquely personal ways, Purdy High School seniors received diplomas in commencement exercises held Saturday in the school gym.

Purdy graduates unloaded Silly String onto each other at the close of graduation ceremonies on Saturday, a messy but fun tradition that concluded commencement exercises. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

The 42 members of the Class of 2017 heard amusing anecdotes of their time in school from the introduction by Brittany Bricker and Chris Ramos. They recalled how teacher Molly Strickland would scream down the hallways whenever the school bells failed, a voice everyone heard without fail, and times before middle school students invaded the hallowed hallway of the older students.

Valedictorian Rion Boyd recalled a particularly meaningful memory in her address, how an elementary student came up to her after a basketball game and said, “I want to be like you someday.”

“It is moments like these that you fell like you have become your own person,” Boyd said.

Boyd cited four specific lessons she especially prized from her school years.

First, do not take time for granted; second, “We are all a work in progress;” third, a new adventure awaits after graduation, having largely been sheltered from the real world to date; and fourth, “No one can hold us back from our dreams. We are the only ones who can limit ourselves.”

Salutatorian Megan Thomas noted how Google quickly became everyone’s best friend in navigating homework assignments due within minutes. However, she noted motivational author Joe Plumeri’s dictum: “You can’t Google to find what’s in your heart, the passion that lifts you skyward.”

Thomas observed teachers, family and friends have been present for support, and now, while some may know what to do next, others may not. She advised either was OK, for God would provide direction.

“Go into the world and find your passion in life, because Google can’t help with that one,” Thomas said. “You must take chances and challenge yourself. Go experience things you never would before. Do not worry about failure. Someone once helped you get to where you are because they believed in you and that is enough to keep striving for better.”

History teacher Jason Webb provided the faculty address. Having himself started at Purdy four years ago, Webb felt particularly close to the class, and admitted he had probably learned as much from them as they had from him.

“Life is sometimes about being really good at being average,” Webb said.

He recounted how he had not become an outstanding ninja or gangster rapper as he wanted in his youth.

“It takes winners and losers to have capitalism,” Webb said. “That’s part of free enterprise. Not being the winner is sometimes a good thing for society to move forward.”

Ordinary people, he noted, have had ideas that succeed. Someone, he observed, thought up having graduates wear thin robes and square cardboard hats. Someone thought, “We have milk. We have butter. Why not butter milk?”

“The whole American public is average,” Webb said. “Go out and be average. People will buy anything. You don’t have to have awesome dreams. That’s what America is all about. You can do awesome things. Be better at being average than other people. Life is 40 percent work ethic, 40 percent being a good person, and 50 percent math skills. You are not going to use half the stuff we taught you. It’s OK. Go out and enjoy life. There are wonderful things ahead for you.”

Webb said the school is a part of the students now and the students are part of the school.

“You had a home here,” he said. “You will struggle sometimes. Everybody is going to have bumps. Don’t forget where home is. Be the best friend in the neighborhood, the best mother, the best in your job.

“It’s more important to be the best at average things in life. Good luck.”

The ceremony continued with the senior choir under Lauren Lee singing “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent,” and the presentation of diplomas. After turning the tassels on their hats, the graduates left the gym, then returned to throw their hats into the air and douse each other with Silly String, a continuing tradition at the school.

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