Helias Catholic High School celebrated the class of 2021 Monday morning with prayer, food and awards.
The morning started with prayers and song at a baccalaureate Mass. The Rev. Stephen Jones, director of stewardship for the Diocese of Jefferson City, said it has been an honor and a pleasure to have watched the Class of 2021 "grow into amazing young women and men over the last four years."
"It's time for you to go out into the world, into new things," he told the students. "It's time for you to move on and experience bigger things — different things — to help you continue to learn and to grow."
Jones told the students they were each created to be saints, and that doesn't end when they leave Helias.
"In fact, in many ways, it's just beginning," he said. "It is something that will stay with you for the entirety of your lives."
He told the students and their family members to strive to be a saint.
"Devote your life to it," he said. "As you all continue to grow and flourish and learn, remember who you are, where you came from, and what you were created to be and continually called to be."
After the baccalaureate Mass, the students and their families mingled in the gymnasium and ate pastries and fruit around tables decorated in gold and blue balloons for the senior breakfast.
Wearing their blue graduation gowns, students were then recognized for their various achievements at an awards ceremony. Principal Kenya Fuemmeler announced awards, scholarships and each student's plans for after high school, and staff members presented certificates and honor cords to students.
Helias senior Emma Davis will be attending Lindenwood University for archery and political science with the goal of someday becoming a civil rights attorney. She said she will miss her friends and English teacher Pat Seifert, but she is excited for her next chapter and looking forward to more freedom.
"It's exciting to be done with high school and sad to be going away from everything that I've known," she said.
Emily Wilson, who will attend Missouri University of Science and Technology for computer science, said she also has bittersweet, mixed emotions on graduating from high school, but she's excited for the opportunities college will bring.
"I'm scared for the next step but excited to leave," she said.
Abby Thomeczek said Monday's events were fun and exciting because it means she's a step closer to graduating. While she'll miss her teachers and friends and always remember the memories they've made, she's excited for college, she said. Thomeczek received a full-ride scholarship to Lincoln University for its agriculture program.
"I feel like I've created a bond with everybody here, so I'm going to miss that, but it's a chapter of life," she said.
Helias Catholic High School's graduation is 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crusader Athletic Complex.