A packed house of friends and family turned out Thursday to see four Neosho Christian School graduates receive their diploma.
Accepting the sheepskin from Tommy Burr, school board president, were Jessica Whitson Cole, valedictorian; Madison Elizabeth McDonnell, salutatorian; Austin Michael Fehring; and Andrew Logan Hamby.
In her valedictorian address, Cole told the crowd she could not have done all she had done without the support of her parents, teachers and friends.
"I couldn't have done it alone," she said, her voice choked with emotion.
Meanwhile, McDonnell gave thanks to those who made the school possible, the staff, her friends, family and her Savior.
Giving the keynote address Thursday was Dr. Alan Marble, president of Crowder College, who told the graduates to dream big in order to accomplish much.
"A wise man once said to'Shoot for the moon,' " Marble said. "Dream big dreams, then work to make those dreams come true."
Marble said graduation was not an end, but a beginning. This was why the ceremonies were called "commencement."
"I really hope this isn't the end of anything," he said. "[This is] the first rung on the ladder of success. We must remember what Thomas Jefferson said about ladders: "A rung is only to put your foot on long enough to raise your foot somewhere higher. And I hope that's what these graduates are going to do, whether it's going into the workforce or furthering their education. But no matter what you plan to do, the lessons you've learned right here at Neosho Christian School have served you well."
The college president also quoted the late Vince Lombardi, who once quipped that the dictionary was the only place in the world where "success" came before "work." He told the graduates that success would take work, but they had already proven they were up to the task.
"You can never achieve beyond your wildest expectations unless you begin with wild expectations," Marble said. "And I know that you have those expectations because of the teachers here at Neosho Christian School. They've pushed you, prodded you, led you — sometimes insisted — that you strive to reach your expectations."
In concluding his remarks, he said America should not be measured by achievement, but by potential. He said these graduations, and others across the land, were America's potential.
Cole is the daughter of Jim and Emily Cole of Granby. She attended Neosho Christian in the second, fifth and sixth grades, as well as all through high school. While at Neosho Christian, she has had the following honors: first place in the 2013 science fair, 12 accepted entries in the Crowder College Quill contest, first place in website in the history fair, and qualifying for the A honor roll each year. Activities include yearbook staff, marching band and concert choir. She plans to attend Crowder College or the College of the Ozarks, and earn a degree in English.
Page 2 of 2 - McDonnell, the daughter of Matt and Tara McDonnell, has attended Neosho Christian since 2008. Her activities include girls and co-ed volleyball, marching band, concert choir, yearbook staff, multiple Quill awards, A honor roll, and 2013 Homecoming queen. She plans to earn an associate's degree in business at Crowder College, then on to earn a bachelor's degree, also in business.
Fehring is the son of David and Julia Fehring of Neosho, has attended Neosho Christian since the fourth grade. He has been active in marching band, concert choir, art, A honor roll, yearbook staff and participated in the history and science fairs each year. He plans to attend Crowder College and earn a degree in agriculture. He would like to eventually work in the Missouri Department of Conservation, and start a farm after college.
Hamby is the son of Dr. Andrew and Aimee Hamby of Neosho. He has attended Neosho Christian since his freshman year and has participated in the yearbook staff, science and history fairs, marching band and the concert choir. He plans to attend college this fall.