More than 140 graduates crossed the stage to receive their high school diplomas at Sunday's Aurora High School commencement ceremony, marking the end of the school year and their secondary education.
The ceremony, moved indoors from its original location at Kelley Field due to the possibility of rain, began with a welcome by superintendent Billy Redus. Dr. Redus then introduced the honor graduates from the class of 2018, including:Summa Cum Laude -- Kiersen Coatney, Ryan Crews, Grace Fairchild, Isabella Gertiser, Breeana Hopper, Kaylee Huffman, Kayle Kessinger, Kendall Meyer, Emily Moore, Rachel Negre, Hayden Pope, Ethan Stapleton, Emmaleigh Stone, Melissa Tate, Devyn Thurman and Taylyn Williams Magna Cum Laude -- Karlie Batson, Bailey Burden, AllyBrighton Grosenbacher, Randal Gryder, Jacy Heller, Alexandria Johnson, Faithlynn Jung, Fatlinda Osmani, Brittney Sims and Rachel Smith Cum Laude -- Dylan Bolger, Myleah DePriest, Clayton Dunning, Cheyanne Eutsler, Matthew Guzman, Alexander Hamelink, Brianna Highfield, Brittany Hull-Decocq, Brady King, John Lee, Sonny Loftis, Gavin McFee, Rebekah Jordan Nelson, Michael Pendergrass, Lily Robinson, Connor Savage, Dakota Sekscinski, Hannah Sisco, Brianna Vanderlaan, Joseph Walker, Madilyn Welker and Blake Williams
Following the recognition of those students, Redus introduced the first senior speaker, Kayle Kessinger. She began her speech by defining entropy as "the gradual descent into disorder and disarray," setting up a metaphor for the graduates lives now that they are leaving the relative safety of high school.
"The fact is, whether by accident or design, life is entropic," she said. Citing specific memories from her school career, Kessinger broke down how the past four years had been both chaotic and fulfilling and then looked forward to how her class will make a difference in the world in the future.
In the end, Kessinger said, graduation is the closest the class will get to syntropy, which she defined as "the tendency of people to strive for order," as the next day the graduates would disperse and take their individual chaos with them, all the while searching for the peace she hoped they can find.
Following Kessinger's address, the concert choir performed the class song, "I Lived" by One Republic, accompanied by Zachary Cullen on the guitar. Then the second senior speaker, Melissa Tate, took the podium.
Tate began by quoting Dr. Seuss: "You're off to great places / Today is your day / Your mountain is waiting / So get on your way." She congratulated the class on climbing to the top of "the mountain known as Aurora High School" and moving on to climb the many mountains ahead.
Through tears, she thanked her family, teachers, band and directors and her fellow graduates for helping and providing many memories throughout high school. Tate specifically recalled how the class came together to decorate the hallways for homecoming, stating how great she thought it was for people of every group to come together to create something.
Tate went on to give some "I'm sorrys" to specific teachers and parents for what she and her classmates made them go through over their years of high school.
To conclude, she stated she would not trade her time at Aurora for anything in the world and said, "Once a Houn' Dawg, always a Houn' Dawg."
Before the class received their high school diplomas, a handful of graduates were recognized for having earned associate's degrees from Crowder College. Kim McCully-Mobley gave a rundown of Crowder's history and informed the audience of the hard work put in by the seven students earning college degrees. Those earning the degrees through the dual-credit program were Tate, Kiersten Coatney, AllyBrighton Grosenbacher, Faithlynn Jung, Fatlinda Osmani, Brittney Sims and Ethan Stapleton.
With college and high school diplomas in hand, the graduates from the Aurora class of 2018 eventually processed out of the gym, off to begin the next chapter of their lives.