"It was the pride in me that was drivin' me," is another lyric from the same song a graduating Jefferson City High School student quoted on Sunday; one could say the occassion was all about the drive of Jay pride.
The 143rd graduating class of Jay Birds boasted 531 seniors.
Class president Bailey Conrad, student council president Carson Ridgeway and class valedictorian Brittany Patrick gave speeches.
Before the ceremony, Ridgeway said it was bittersweet to know his time as a high school student was ending, but he was looking forward to giving a few parting words.
On stage, he quoted the "amazing wordsmith and street poet" Kanye West on the song "Big Brother" — appropriately from the album "Graduation" — as he reflected on the experiences of high school. "A very wise man once said, 'If you admire someone, you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers while they can still smell them.'
"What he means by those lyrics is tell people how you feel about them, and how you look up them," he said as thanked fellow students, teacher and parents — moms especially, with the day being Mother's Day, too.
"Thank you, and it was an honor to be your president, and I love you all like Kanye loves Kanye," he concluded.
Patrick gave her valedictorian speech 36 years after her father delivered his on the same occassion.
"We all walked into our freshmen year scared, timid, really awkward and unsure of who we were, but today, the amazing people sitting before me are about to go out and take on the world," she said of how the past four years have changed her and her classmates.
She acknowledged graduation is in some ways an act of finality, "but today is different, because today is not just a day of lasts; it's a day of firsts. Today is the first day we will graduate high school and begin our next adventures."
Those adventures will soon take some graduates to institutions in Jefferson City, Columbia, Linn, Fulton, Sedalia, Rolla, Kirksville, Springfield, Warrensburg, St. Louis, Kansas City and Lawrence that many readers may be familiar with.
Other adventures will soon take graduates to different parts of the country, to the universities of Washington, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas, and Michigan State University, William Penn University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), among others.
Conrad will be attending Ohio State University; Ridgeway, the University of Missouri-Columbia; and Patrick, Washington University of St. Louis.
Thirty graduates have committed to serving in the armed services. The Air Force was most popular with nine students, followed by the Navy with eight, seven for the Army, three for the Marines, the National Guard with two and one for the Army Reserve.
Before Conrad led the graduates in turning their tassles, many students were recognized collectively or individually for their achievements at JCHS.
For example, the National Honor Society had 77 graduating members; student council, 23; the astronomy club, 30; Key Club, 15.
Ten students were recognized for graduating with grade point averages between 3.95-3.999: Shaina C. Anderson; Ryan M. Curtit; Darian L. Decker; Sarah L. Hirst; Mary K. Renkemeyer; Skylar T. Richardson; Taylor S. Rotter; Joshua D. Sabala; Brenna C. Stotlemeyer; and Adam J. Walker.
Twenty-three students were recognized as salutatorians, with grades point averages of 4.0 or higher: Addison P. Brown, Jimmy Chen, Conrad; Rachel L. Cooley, Ashley-Ann K. Davis, Samuel B. Denson, Stephanie Z. Grant, Cole V. Halcomb, Olivia P. Hart; Dominika E. Helm; Emily L. Hoerchler; Rachel L. Holt; Joshua H. Jay; Alicen M. Jennings; (Yunxing) Lucy Liao, Joseph A. Mendez, Maggie L. Noble, Emily J. Rackers, Alison E. Riggs, Kirsten E. Schwandtner, Griffin D. Scott, Stephanie R. Scott and Rachel M. Ulm.
Conrad and Ridgeway received awards from the American Legion.
Halcomb and Rackers received awards from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Jay and Hart won All-School Service awards.
Patrick's grade point average as valedictorian was 4.189. Before the ceremony, she said she was most looking forward to the pride of the people in the audience for all the students have accomplished.