A total of 264 members of the 2018 Senior Class at Neosho High School received their diplomas at commencement exercises held Thursday evening at the Leggett and Platt Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State College in Joplin.

A total of 264 members of the 2018 Senior Class at Neosho High School received their diplomas at commencement exercises held Thursday evening at the Leggett and Platt Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State College in Joplin.
A full house of family, friends, and supporters filled the venue as the Neosho graduates took their final walk at graduation.
Teri Kemna, Neosho High School science instructor, was selected by the graduating class to serve as their commencement speaker.
"I am honored and humbled that you have chosen me to speak tonight," Kemna said during her speech. Kemna talked about a warrior's initiation among the Mawe tribe in Brazil who endure being stung by venomous ants, what she termed "a harrowing ordeal as a rite of passage."
"Thank goodness you are not facing the ritual of the Mawe," Kemna told the grads. "But I can understand that along with the excitement that comes with graduation comes anxiety and fear about what awaits. Throughout your life you have been told what to do and when and how to do it to varying degrees and the idea of suddenly having a lot more freedom and making decisions for yourself - although exhilarating - can be stressful and scary. Tonight I want to tell you that you will be fine. Really, more than just fine - you will be great."
Kemna spoke about what she wish she had known when graduating from Neosho High School in 1991 and said, "I believe what really everyone wants to know is how to be happy. So, how doe one achieve happiness according to Kemna? I will share my 5 best suggestions with you."
She listed the five points which were, 1. Figure out who you are, 2. Be kind and empathetic, 3. Practice open-minded skepticism, 4. Laugh at yourself and 5. It's all about positive personal relationships.
"Your families and teachers are proud of you," Kemna stated. "We want you to be successful, to find happiness, whatever that means for you. My wish is that you find it through being authentic, practicing empathy and kindness, being an open-minded skeptic, not being afraid to laugh at yourself and building positive relationships. You are not native warriors of the Brazilian rainforest but you are something more special to me - you are Wildcats! Thank you, class of 2018, congratulations, enjoy this moment, keep in touch, see you on Twitter and stay safe!"
At the annual Senior Assembly and Awards earlier on Thursday, the 2018 Student of the Year was announced, selected from all the Students of the Month during the past school year. Graduating senior Tyler Eads was honored as the Student of the Year.
Numerous other seniors and some underclassmen also received recognition in many departments and fields of study including sports, band, vocal music, vocational agriculture, debate, and more.
Anna Olson, NHS yearbook sponsor, introduced student and staff member Cassidy Doty.
Doty told the assembled student body, "We, the yearbook staff, have chosen two deserving staff members to dedicate this yearbook to. The first one is a well-deserving person who has devoted her life to teaching. In fact, she's been teaching since the 1970's and is finally retiring this year after being pulled out of retirement. She has given a lot of time and energy to this school and watched generations of students walk through these halls and has been an inspiration to countless people. This year's yearbook is dedicated to Jackie Kenny."
Kenny has taught foreign language, German and Spanish, at NHS for many years.
"The second person that this book is dedicated to is someone you can go to for anything, not just his subject area. This person has been teaching here for 19 years. He's an inspiration to countless students and his dedication to the school shows in his recent award as Employee of the Month. This year's yearbook is dedicated to Chad Thomas," Doty said.
Thomas is a social sciences instructor at the high school.
Staff Sergeant Eric Corcoran of the Missouri National Guard was also on hand to recognize graduating seniors who have joined the military.
At the conclusion of the assembly, the Class of 2019, was directed to move to the senior seating area in the gym and officially became seniors when the class link was passed from the outgoing senior class president to the junior class student body president.