A large crowd of well-wishers gathered in Kingsville last Friday, July 24, to celebrate with the KHS graduating Class of 2020.
The long-awaited commencement exercises were held at 7 p.m. in the Sears Gymnasium amid cheers and applause from family and friends.
Class valedictorian Casey Stout addressed her classmates and the crowd in attendance in her graduation speech. Kingsville paraprofessional Tammie Curry also spoke to those gathered for the joyous occasion.
Salutatorian Madison Haly was unable to attend the ceremony, but is a leader in the Class of 2020 as well.
The crowd cheered as one by one, the 20 members of the Kingsville graduating class received their high school diplomas from R-I Board of Education President Julie Stout.
Casey touched on many different subjects in her address, including thanking those who helped the graduates reach this pinnacle of their young lives.
“I would like to express the sincere appreciation that my classmates and I have for those of you who have shared this journey with us,” Casey said.
“Without your support and encouragement, we would have struggled to accomplish the goals that we set for ourselves and that you strived to see us meet. For that, we are forever thankful.”
She talked about the unusual and unique senior year the Class of 2020 had to endure, specifically focusing on the historic coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking directly to her classmates, Casey said, “Experiencing the pandemic has taught us how life will throw us curve balls full of doubt.
“We may not have understood or appreciated how to handle the situation, but we persevered and it reflects in the people we have become.”
She went on to talk about the regrets she has for the way their senior year was cut short due to the unprecedented school shutdown in April.
“The thought of not getting the closure I would like to have had with the staff, administration and other students, was one I was not prepared for,” she added.
But, in spite of the abrupt end to their high school academic and athletic careers, the classmates are a resilient bunch and now boldly step forward toward an uncertain future.
Casey was sentimental when speaking of the many years the class has spent sharing memories, with some of them being together since kindergarten.
“We have grown up with each other, played sports together, and many other activities,” she said. “We have built friendships that I hope will last a lifetime, as well as the many memories we share. Memories that will forever be cherished.”
She reminded her peers of some of those cherished memories over the years, such as winning district and sectional championship games during their high school years.
“Watching the school and community come together and showing the much-needed love and support for its athletes is one of the many things I love about this small town!” Casey reminisced.
She shared some humorous tales of predicaments she and her fellow graduates got into during the last 13 years, evoking laughter and nostalgia from all in attendance.
Casey went on to speak about the uncertain futures the graduates are now thrust into, saying, “As we close this chapter of our lives, we are opening the door to endless possibilities.
“Without a doubt, this chapter will be full of nerve-wracking, exciting and scary experiences. We must be prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that will flood in.”
She addressed the inevitable mistakes and missteps the graduates will no doubt make as they move forward into a scary time in their lives and in our world.
“In life, no one is perfect. Everyone will make mistakes, but we should use them as life lessons,” she said.
“Do not go into life being afraid that you are going to make a mistake. Know that if you do, it is merely a stepping stone on the road to being successful.”
Casey closed her remarks by giving her classmates some sage advice, saying, “We need to live without fear of regret and do what makes us happy.
“No matter if you’re going straight into work, attending college, or a trade school, always remember to keep an open mind to your surroundings.
“This is the end of something great, but the start of something even better! It is time to spread our wings and enter the real world we have prepared so hard for!”
Casey ended her speech by wishing her fellow graduates sincere good luck and said she hopes for a successful future for all of them.
And with that, the KHS seniors of 2020 received their diplomas, turned their tassels, victoriously tossed their caps in the air, and proudly walked toward the new adventures awaiting them!