We Salute our 2014 PHS Graduates

PHS Class of 2014 graduates

From a news release

Commencement Addresses

Jaret Kluender presented the Valedictory address.

Excerpts are provided below:

I hope that each of you strive to live your life in pursuit of a better version of yourself. When you think of this, we all have room for improvement in our lives. If life is so short, then why waste it by ignoring our potential? Now I am not talking about this YOLO motto that has entered many kids’ lives. Trying different things that will get you arrested is not how to better yourself.

Newsflash. If we are given only less than a hundred years on this Earth, make it good, because the time after you are gone is infinitely longer, and if you lived in sin while on Earth, it will be infinitely hotter.

Everyone has the potential to be great. Overcome whatever is holding you back, and be someone that others look up to, because our world is in desperate need of role models.

The worst thing you can do is to allow yourself to become lazy and stagnant. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Even if Mr. Ashcraft says that physics is the “stupid of science,” Newton hit that nail right on the head. If you allow yourself one moment of rest, who knows if you’ll ever move along the right path again.

There is only one perfect man who has ever walked the Earth. We should strive for perfection in our daily lives, but we will all fall short of the mark that Jesus set. That is no reason to quit trying, though, because your efforts will all be worth it someday.

I ask each of you to make a real effort to accomplish this. I guarantee that a little more effort will be necessary than what it took to get through school.

This is just the beginning of a journey that every human being must take. Let us march forward and meet our future with enthusiasm and the goal of bettering ourselves, and by extension, the world.

Alexis Weisbrod presented the Salutatory Address.

Excerpts are provided below:

We have spent four long years together. We have had good times and bad, yet we made it through all of it and ended up here. I want each of you to think back to freshman year. You are sitting in American History I and all of a sudden, you hear a man yelling, very loudly, at someone in his class. Everyone in our class is thinking the same thing: “Who is that?” And our teacher responds very calmly, “That’s Mr. O’Keefe.” Back then we were all terrified of him, but throughout the years we have grown more comfortable not only with Mr. O’Keefe, who is our commencement speaker, but also with high school in general.

When we finish our finals on Wednesday, we are going to be thrown into life outside high school. This may scare some of you, others may look forward to the adventures that life has in store for them. Some of us are going to college to further our education, and others are going to work in various fields. But whatever our paths are, life will have some things to throw in our way. However, I do not want you to focus on the obstacles, but rather the opportunities — because with the beginning of a new chapter in life there will be plenty of new and exciting opportunities. Each of us can decide for ourselves who we are going to be and what we want out of life.

Starting over is scary, but just remember that you have done it once and you can do it again. Even though we are all going our separate ways, you will always be a member of the Perryville High School Class of 2014.

Don O’Keefe was the Commencement Speaker:

I would like to welcome everyone to this special evening and I would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2014. It has been a great ride with many turns and surprises around every corner. Just to think, only four years ago you were finding your way through a new environment known as PHS. When you were freshman the numbers one songs in America were Teenage Dreams by Katy Perry and Like a G6 by the Far East Movement. The three top grossing movies of that year were Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1. Throughout your four years you have also seen many different domestic and international events. You saw the St. Louis Cardinals bring home a World Series Championship, you witnessed the death of Osama Bin Ladin, and while in school, you followed the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  

Over these past four years I have had the opportunity to watch many of you grow up.  During that time, you have accomplished many things at PHS. Now, it is time to start a new chapter in all of your lives. Some of you will go off to college, others of you will go straight into the work place, and some of you will not know what you want to do for a few more years. However, all of you do have dreams and aspirations. For this reason, here are some things that I hope will help you on your way to making these dreams come true.

The first thing is to the faith in yourself. When you have something that you truly believe in then go after it. The human mind and the drive that comes with it have allowed human beings to do some amazing things. It’s allowed us to discover cures for many different diseases and it has allowed us to send people into space. In each of these cases someone had an idea and believed that it could be done. Then they did it. In most cases, people who were able to find success also experienced failure along the way. This is where your true character needs to come through. It is always easier to give up when things are not going the way that you want. It is the person who keeps fighting through the tough times that will find that personal or professional success later on. People tend to want everything right away. We have to understand that not everything happens in a day, a week, or even a year. Mohandas Ghandi spent thirty-two years trying to liberate India. It was that persistence and patience that allowed him to reach his goal. For this reason, there is a quote that comes to mind when I think about continuing to believe in yourself. The quote is “patience is a virtue”. Believe in your idea and give it time to grow.

The second thing is that you should be willing to take chances. Don’t be nervous about trying to do something in life. Most people don’t take chances because of fear and doubt. This occurs because we tell people that taking chances could turn them into failures. We tend to forget that these risks can also turn into success stories. We need to notice that there are also positives to taking chances. Most successful individuals took gambles and risks in their lives. If you have a dream then only you can act on that dream. Everyone in this gymnasium has experienced failure throughout their lives. That is what happens in life.  No one ever said that is was going to be easy. This is a major reason why I believe in this quote: “A society that forgets its past is doomed to repeat it”. Make sure to remember your mistakes so when that same situation comes up again you will react differently to it.

Harry S Truman, our thirty-third president, is the only president to come from the state of Missouri. Long before he became president, Truman was a farmer for twelve years and would fail numerous times with many different business ventures. However, for Truman and those like him, they were all willing to take those risks because, in their minds, the juice was worth the squeeze.

The final part of this speech has to do with not listening to the pessimists. Do not allow other individuals to decide what you can or cannot do in life. When you truly believe in your idea then go after it. What we need in the world are more optimists. An optimist is a person who looks for the best outcome of every situation. These are the individuals who are willing to sacrifice and go through the bad times because they believe that good things will prevail in the end. If you want to be a doctor, artist, businessman, race-car driver, or be involved with any other profession then do it. No one ever wants to look back at their lives with regret. Your life should be filled with happiness and joy. Many of your successful people in history had to make some type of sacrifice or came from a difficult situation. Michael Jordan is a former player for the Chicago Bulls. Michael actually got cut from his high school basketball team when he was a sophomore. The reason that the coach gave for cutting Jordan was because he was too small. Today, Jordan is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and is the All-Time Leading Scorer in NBA history. If Jordan would have given up after being cut he would have never risen to the great heights that he did. You have to attack life realizing that you will have many more positive days than negative ones. Just do not give up at the first sign of adversity.

Once you leave high school you are a step closer to working for a majority of your lives. For this reason alone, all of you should appreciate and enjoy every little detail of your life. Do what makes you happy. Imagine what could happen when you succeed. As I finish, I would like to leave you with one last thing. It is a statement that reminds me about how precious life is. The quote is, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift”. It has been a real honor to watch each and everyone of you grow up over these past four years. You are always welcome here at PHS and good luck with all of your futures. 

The traditional hat toss concluded the ceremony.