Grain Valley High School 2020 graduates were finally able to gather for commencement and toss their caps during a ceremony held at the University of Central Missouri on Friday, July 24th. Students donned masks along with their caps and gowns and were seated to allow for required physical distancing.
Superintendent Marc Snow welcomed students and their parents.
“Tonight may not have looked exactly like we all thought it would, or held on the date we intended, but every one of us believes the ceremony and recognition of graduation is something we could not do without. It was important for us to be here and celebrate together,” Snow said.
Valley News asked Grain Valley High School Principal Dr. Jeremy Plowman about this graduating class, and Plowman expressed his pride in this class of students.
“This class had to overcome so much adversity, especially the past three months. I would not wish this on anyone, but the class of 2020 has handled it with class and grace,” Plowman said.
“They have graduated at a unique and tumultuous time in the world. If there is ever a time we need passionate, empathetic, and caring young adults, it is now. This year will always be known for the coronavirus pandemic, but it can also be known for jumpstarting a new leadership in our country. Never will our graduates have as much control over their own destiny as they do now.”
Class speaker Piper Barnard, graduating Summa Cum Laude and Missouri Bright Flight Scholar, praised her class for being “brilliantly resilient” and encouraged each student to use this time to embrace their passions and use them to make a difference in the world.
“Now is the time for us. Now is the time to figure out what we care about. Now is the time to fall in love with the world and our passions….Now is the time to fail and fall back on our community. Now is the time to embrace diversity,” Barnard said.
Grain Valley High School social studies teacher Eric Ball was selected by the student body to speak at the commencement ceremony.
Ball gave a rousing speech, asking the students to stand and yell “2020” as he called out their various plans after graduation, including college, military service, mission service, trade schools, and travel.
“There is nothing for me to say, because hear their voices. This is what you should hear. Not what the media or the news says. Not out of a sound of pity or a sorry feeling. Not the noise from recent events that have occurred. Hear them,” Ball exclaimed.
The 276 graduates were awarded over $4 million in scholarships to post-secondary institutions.
“Athletically and activities-wise, this class has had more State qualifiers, conference, and District champions than any previous class. Academically, they continue to be among the top schools in the Kansas City metro area in taking advanced placement classes and being prepared. 98% of this class graduated on time,” Plowman said.