Principal Kelly Hussey described Morris Community High School’s 2013 graduating class as having “energetic personalities.”
This was evident as students lined up in the gym waiting to walk out onto the football field, and as they broke out into applause congratulating each other one last time inside their school.
“They probably have as much, if not more, camaraderie in this class that I feel we have ever seen,” said Hussey. “They interact in a broader sense with each other than most classes.”
Of the 230 graduates, 223 walked across the stage and collected their diplomas Friday night. The Class of 2013 is the 139th class to graduate from Morris high school.
Valedictorians Craig Claire and Harmony Alford were not only nervous to graduate, but to make their speeches in front of the student body and their families.
“We’re all going to take different paths, but this is something that unites us always,” said Alford.
Waiting for their moment, students helped each other adjust their caps, took pictures together on their cellphones, and many hugged one last time.
The anticipation of finally graduating made some thrilled and others anxious.
“I’m excited to go on with the next chapter of my life, but I’ll always cherish the moments I had at MCHS,” said Erinne Smith.
Smith plans for a big chapter next, studying international affairs and Russian at Cornell College in Iowa.
“It all flew by so fast. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” she said.
Grace Backus shared the same fear as many of her peers, and of many graduates before her: tripping as she walked for her diploma. She felt both nervous and excited for her big moment.
“You watch everyone go through this and now it’s us. It’s so weird. It’s crazy and exciting,” said Backus, who is planning to attend Joliet Junior College to study interior design.
Although she attended Morris high for four years, it just felt like one year in the end, she said.
Valedictorian Claire said he hoped through his speech that his fellow students would reflect on their time and accomplishments in Morris.
He said he’s chosen to study mechanical engineering at Washington University in Missouri, thanks to the math and science programs at Morris high school.
“I loved the math and science programs offered here. The teachers have been very supportive,” he said.
As they have for the last four years, the school’s administration and teachers led the way for the students, this time down the high school track to the ceremony stage in the center of the football field.
The students followed in pairs walking with pride before their family and friends.
“It’s a new beginning,” said Stephenie Wiekert.