The graduating class of 2013 from Russellville High School shone brightly Saturday - at least the caps worn by most of the senior ladies did.
Jeweled, glittered and stenciled, the white caps were as unique as the wearer, which must be part of the purpose for the long-standing tradition, many agreed.
"The fact that we're all in robes shows we're all one group; our class is a family," Sue Engelage said. "At the same time, we all have unique abilities; we all have something different."
Decorating her cap was a fun mother-daughter project, she said. She found the design online and her mother, who is an artist, helped create it.
Her name and stars in a metallic blue reflect how she likes to be nice to everyone, but she's fun to be around too, Engelage said.
Samantha Knaebel expressed her "old fashioned glamor" with her traditional blue and white color scheme with glitter for sparkle.
After graduating early and completing her first semester of college this spring, Melissa Roth was grateful to join her classmates again for Saturday's ceremony.
A rose in honor of her family name adorned Roth's cap, along with her new favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, which she has found to be inspirational in this new transition of life.
"I had never seen a fully bedazzled one," Kennedy Volkart said of decorated graduation caps. "I wanted to be different."
Rhinestones covered her entire cap.
"My mom told me I'd always be her diamond," Volkart said.
Sarah Ferguson included an image of her late grandparents on her cap along with the Indian mascot.
And Sadee Schrader decorated her cap with iridescent blue jewels, similar to those on her prom dress, she said.
Although the traditional cap toss mixed the hats, these ladies were sure to retrieve their keepsakes from the day.
The class of 2013 motto is "Life brings you tears, smiles and memories. Tears dry, smiles fade, but memories last forever."
"For many of us as parents ... we are both happy and sad," Superintendent Jerry Hobbs, whose daughter Kimberly graduated Saturday, reported to the Board of Education recently. "We are happy to see our children succeed and achieve this major milestone in their lives.
"And, at the same time, many of us are sad to see our children growing up and leaving home."
Salutatorian Emily Kennedy took inspiration from the Disney movie "Hercules" for her address. She encouraged her classmates to live a life worthy of someone writing about it.
From the early obstacles of kindergarten to the challenges of high school, Valedictorian Khala Schulte expressed gratitude for the many adults who have helped them through the years.
She noted those two "doors" have presented the same feelings many had about graduation - excitement and apprehension, moving from safety to uncharted waters.
Of the 40 graduates, 19 fulfilled the requirement of the state's A+ program, 18 earned at least a 3.3 grade point average, 14 were National Honor Society members and two were Beta Club members.
The audience broke into applause for Cody Lewis, who will serve in the Missouri Army National Guard.
Counselor Brent Mettlen announced 31 members of the class will continue their education at a two- or four-year college. And those students combined have received more than $100,000 in awards and scholarships.
Higher education intentions included Westminster College; College of the Ozarks; University of Central Missouri; Merrell University; William Woods University; Linn State Technical College; Missouri State University; Jefferson College; Hannibal-LeGrange University; Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif.; State Fair Community College; University of Missouri; Stephens College; University of Missouri-St. Louis; Lincoln University; Central Methodist University; and Truman State University.
Intended majors include pre-veterinary studies, digital media, cosmetology, civil engineering, biology, massage therapy, early childhood education, motion picture and television production, dietetics, graphic design, business, nutrition, criminal justice, nursing, psychology, pre-medicine studies, English education, music, creative writing and hospitality management.