Jefferson City High School class valedictorian Timothy Ittner told the largest JCHS graduating class in history that he would forgo advice, and instead highlight accomplishments of the class.
Advice, he said, should come from someone "older, more educated and more experienced than I."
Itner, son of Don and Joyce Ittner, topped his class with a 4.146 GPA. He plans to major in international relations at Brown University.
The class has 651 graduates, including 30 salutatorians with grade point averages of at least 4.0. The salutatorians alone have already earned 410 college credits, Principal Paul Dodson said.
"We're worked tirelessly over these past four years," Ittner said. "We've submitted our final papers and finished our last assignments."
Class accomplishments, he said, include:
• Four of the graduates participated in all-state choir.
• Band, orchestra and choir members competed in the state festival in Columbia.
• Show Choir competed at a national qualifier in Branson.
• Mr. JC and Variety Show "were smashing successes, as always."
• Key Club organized an "awesome 5K" to raise funds for the Halo organization.
• The Red and Black newspaper and the 100th edition of the
Marcullus yearbook were published, "and proved that the pen, is indeed, mightier than the sword."
• Four graduates were named National Merit finalists.
• The Speech & Debate Team had "another incredible season, and three graduates today are headed to the national championships later this summer."
• The World Languages Department is preparing to travel to France, Germany and Spain.
• The class "dominated" the Powder Puff competition for the second year, finishing with a perfect 2-0 record.
He said these successes and others were no accident, but "the result of our ambition to do our personal best. To persist, to persevere and perfect ourselves. To work both individually and cooperatively. Today, our many hours of hard work have finally paid off."
He collectively thanked the "parents and teachers, counselors and coaches, and the inspiration for the entire community for their help, support and guidance. "Our success is your success," he said.
He said the uncertainty of the future will contain opportunity for the class that will breed success. "Our class is already headed for success and is poised to attain greatness," he said.
Danica Ridgeway, student body president, used the ABCs - "The first thing that we learned in kindergarten." - to have one word representing each letter to show what the class has learned.
It ranged from A) "Always be on time, or you won't have a parking spot," to Z) Zealous, which, she said, is synonymous with "passionate" and "dedicated," words that define the JCHS Class of 2014.
She choked up at the letter L, saying "We've all lost people we've loved," and garnered laughter by saying S is for "selfie," then proceeded to snap a couple shots of herself at the podium with her class in the background.
"Everybody get in it," she joked. "I got you all. I'll tag you all in Instagram."
"D" was for district titles. The school won district in girls' golf, volleyball, tennis, track and is playing for the soccer title Tuesday. Boys won district in soccer and wrestling. The Student Council was "northeast district president."
She said she listened to music - including "Unwritten," by Natasha Bedingfield - for inspiration in writing her speech.
"We're reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it," she said, paraphrasing the lyrics.
"I realized that's the point of life we're at right now, and that's really cool," she said.