CHS graduates 114 in its Class of 2021

Seven co-valedictorians – Hansen, Evans, Allen, Pauley, Walker, Gabrielson, Leamer – announced

By PAUL STURM, C-T Staff Writer
Their diplomas in hand, signaling their official graduation from Chillicothe High School as members of the Class of 2021, class members engage in the traditional upward fling of their mortarboards just prior to the conclusion of Sunday evening's commencement exercises at the CHS gym.
Co-valedictorians of the Chillicothe High School class of 2021, which graduated Sunday evening, are, from left Ð Emma Leamer, Alexie "Lexi" Walker, Emery Evans, Ethan Gabrielson, Carter Allen, Seth Hansen, and Samual Pauley.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Staff Writer

A couple of years ago or before, a school’s traditional May or early June graduation ceremony for its outgoing class probably was viewed by communities at large as routine, even humdrum, for those who didn’t have a personal connection with one or more of the graduates-to-be.

Then 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic happened and, in Chillicothe and the United States and other locales around the world, many such ceremonies and connected festivities either were postponed or canceled.

Thus, this past Sunday evening had a different, fresh, and more-joyous overall ambience to it as Chillicothe High School officially graduated 114 members of its 2020-21 senior class.

In commencement exercises held in the CHS gymnasium when wet weather precluded the use of nearby Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II as a larger and more-social-distancing-friendly site, those seniors officially transitioned into Chillicothe High graduates in an event whose program lasted only a bit over an hour.

Highlighting the ceremonies, in addition to the presentation of diplomas to the red gown-clad exiting students, were prepared remarks by two class representatives, Emma Rule and Chloe Funk, as well as announcement of seven graduates sharing class valedictorian status as the top achievers academically. 

CHS Class of 2021 co-valedictorians – their identities shared as they stepped forward to cross the stage and accept their diplomas were Samual Pauley, Ethan Gabrielson, Emery Evans, Seth Hansen, Emma Leamer, Carter Allen, and Alexie “Lexi” Walker.

The graduation program also included announcement by class president Funk of its departing gift to the school – a cash contribution to allow the school/district to complete its payment  for the already-possessed floor tarps used to cover gymnasium floor for non-athletic events like graduation, parent-teacher conferences, etc., that require the placement of chairs, tables, and the like on the court. CHS Principal Dan Nagel formally “accepted” the gift.

Nagel and Dan Wiebers, Chillicothe R-2 School District superintendent, both shared words of praise for the graduating class and cited some of their scholastic/academic achievements.

Both took note that, through their school and, in many cases, community endeavors, as well as diligence in seeking out resources, members of the CHS Class of ’21 have been awarded nearly $1.9 million in current and potentially-renewable local, college, and vocational/technical school scholarships. Wiebers termed that “a true testament to their hard work and perseverance.”

The superintendent also shared with those in attendance, most of whom jammed into the gymnasium, but a few dozen of whom elected to view the ceremonies from the school’s Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center via a live video feed provided by Mast Productions, that eight 2021 Chillicothe graduates had earned “Bright Flight” scholarships by scoring 31 or higher on the ACT college-preparedness exam.

 “Bright Flight” scholars included Dimitri Dickerson, Leamer, Walker, Gabrielson, Pauley, Rule, Allen, and Hansen.

Wiebers also had the 53 members of the class who collectively accumulated 746 hours of college credit during their time in CHS stand and be applauded.

Fifty-five  class members earned and received Technical Preparatory Certificates and 21 College Prep Certificates.  Eighty met the requirements to earn A-Plus scholarship assistance at  Missouri community/junior colleges. They also were recognized.

“Your future begins now,” he said to the departing graduates. “Today – and every day forward, your independence grows stronger. Responsibilities given to you and choices that you will possess are truly yours to own.”

Terming them “an outstanding class,” the superintendent remarked, “On behalf of the (district’s) Board of Education, staff, and administration, we extend our congratulations and best wishes to each of you graduates.”

Chloe Funk, who also served as class president for the senior year, shares her remarks as one of two Chillicothe High School Class of 2021 members selected to be featured speakers at the Sunday, May 16, commencement exercises.

In her address, which she titled “Running Toward Success,” to her classmates and the crowd, Funk initially took note of the historic route her class traveled around the late COVID-19 curve.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate and hold a commencement ceremony tonight despite the struggles we have endured our senior year.… The events that we missed out on this year will not matter in the next five; however, the diplomas we will be receiving tonight, that we have all worked hard for, will. ”

To undergird her theme, Funk cited a quote by actor Ed Helms regarding challenges and the unknown: “It sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.”

“We must step out of our comfort zones,” she reinforced in her own words, “and take on the new chapter of life.”

As she closed, she paused for a reflection, then returned her gaze to her and her classmates’ futures.

“Tonight is bittersweet. We will go our separate ways this evening and, for the rest of the summer, we will spend our days with the life-long friends that we have always known,” Funk mused. “However, this fall we will once again go our separate ways, traveling hours apart and making new friends to share more great experiences with.

“I have hope that we will all set off to do something greater.”

Emma Rule, one of 114 graduating members of the Chillicothe High School Class of 2021, presents remarks to the crowd attending the Sunday, May 16, CHS commencement exercises.

In her address, which she titled “Destiny Awaits Us All,” Rule began, “Today, we all wear the same version of a red cap and a red gown, but this is the moment where we shed that one exterior layer that represents all that we have endured. …After tonight, we are our own people who must travel down our own road and pursue what is true to our own individual destinies.

      “No one can tell us where to go from here and what road to take; we have to figure that out for ourselves.”

“Many, however,” Rule continued, “have no idea where their destinies lie. Maybe they’ll meet us a year down the road; maybe 10 years, or even 20. No one is to say.

“The only thing that we can do is pursue our dreams and our passions until our destiny meets us along the road and waves a polite ‘hello.’

“That is the moment we must all strive towards--the moment when we shake hands with destiny and continue down our paths with new enthusiasm.”

“…Whatever destiny looks like for you, chase it,” she encouraged her classmates.

As family members crane their necks and strain to catch sight of their graduate-to-be loved one, members of the Chillicothe High School Class of 2021 process into the CHS gymnasium Sunday evening for commencement exercises. This year's class was comprised of 114 graduates.

The full roster of 2021 Chillicothe High School graduates, in alphabetical order, includes: (* co-valedictorians)

Thommas Montgomery Adkison, Kadance Scott Akers, *Carter Isaiah Allen, Aidan Renee Anderson, Anderson, Kristy Renee Ashbrook, Mason Andrew Baxter, Avory Lee Bloss, Zion William Bowe, Keenan Robert Brake, Zane Anthony Buck, Emma Grace Burk, Tucker Remington Burtch,

Lucas Wayne Campbell, Landen Creek Caselman, Andrew Ryan Cassity, Cayla Fay Cliff, Myles Andrew Cobb, Kalee Ranee Collis, Braden Kohl Constant, Haylee Marie Coplen, Caleb William Corbin, Rebecca Marie Cox, Elijah Nathaniel Cross, Ashton Nicole Crouch, Keyairria Nicole Curtis, Allison May Daniel, Skylar Morgan Dennis, Dimitri Jack Hurst Dickerson, Hannah Grace Dominique, Summer Abigail Drake,

Jillian Marie Eakins, Londin Kole Edds, Mollie Caroline Ellis, *Emery Diane Evans, Julian Bryan Flemming, Chloe Ane' Funk, *Ethan Garrett Gabrielson, Lucy Rae Gaston, Brandon Gage Gentile, Ava Elizabeth Gibson, Colby James Gillespie, Remington Ray Gillespie, Colton Aaron Tyler Greer,

Allison Grace Haley, Kyrstyn Alexanndria Haney, *Seth Robert Hansen, Gabryelle Alyse Hapes, Ashlynn Nicole Hatfield, Riley Scott Hawkins, Trea Michil Hayes, Madisen Gayle Hays, Breanna Madisen Skye Hines, Daniel James Hoel, Brooke Lynn Horton, Gage Steven Hughes, Westley Robert Hurtgen, Allison Grace Ishmael,

Tyler Lynn Jacobs, Hallie Rae Jones, Connor Neil Keithley, Brandon Michael Kiser, Tyler Max Booth Kleinschmidt, Kevin Eugene Kline, *Ella Rose Leamer, Evan James Loucks,

Spencer Trey Maasdam, Cheyenne Eunice Mace, Felecity Dawn Manley, Cesar Omar Mares, Delaney Elizabeth May, Cameron Taylor McCoy, Donald Ezwold McCracken, Kamren Clay McCullough, Carly May McMahan, Warren Dwaine Meservey, Emily Lynn Miller, Kaylee Lynn Munson, Jaden Jolene Murphy, 

Colby Darin Newman, *Samual Taylor Pauley, Dillion Lee Perry, Emily LeAnn Pfeifer, Sheldon Lee Rader, Trace James Edward Rardon, Spencer Cade Riddle, Kamryn Ledean Rinehart, Dalton Scott Ripley, Arianna Marie Rodriguez, Kylie Marie Roseman, Emma Mackenzie Rule,

Hunter James Sackrey, Aaliyah Marissa Saucedo, Aundraya LaVaye Shady, Spencer Jeffrey Shira, Hayden Drew Simmer, Kade Laverne Simmer, Miranda Lynn Simmons, Kaeden Kristopher Simpson, Megan Elizabeth Sisson, Kylee Lurane Smith, Maya Kate Snyder, Aden James St. Clair, Eric Joseph Staller, Chandler Bishop Stedem, Julia Lucille Stimpson, Emma Jo Swank, Gracelyn Mae Swank, Landon Hall Swift,

Michael Caden Thomas, Trey William Tipton, Dylan Michael Tolle, Nathan James Toole, John Keagan Valbracht, Caleb Todd Vance, Tucker Chance Wagers, *Alexie Elizabeth Walker, Joshua Eugene Watterson, Mayanna Elisabeth Weed, Shelby Marie Whitman, Tayler Jo Williams, Rudy Lee Yutzy