Donning their green and gold gowns and caps, the Madison-Plains High School Class of 2017 graduated Friday night to traditional fanfare.
Seventy-nine graduates walked down the aisle in the high school gym to receive their diplomas, as friends and family looked on with pride.
The 2017 Valedictorian was John Bollinger, along with Salutatorians Rebecca Breen, Amber Massie and Emma Sampson.
The speakers at the ceremony focused on the class’s quote by Walt Disney: “All of your dreams can come true, only if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Dr. Matthew Unger, principal, reminisced about the class and the experiences they shared since freshman year.
“This group of seniors, I could go on and on about their achievements,” he said.
Bollinger gave a speech, reflecting on he and his fellow student’s time at Madison-Plains, growing up from when they were small children and how impossibly far away it was.
“We did grow up and graduation is here right now, and I suppose we should enjoy it right now,” he said.
He thanked the school’s teachers.
“You helped plant the seeds to help cultivate us to become who we are,” he said. “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”
He also reflected on how difficult it was at times going through school, albeit with a bit of humor.
“And when you thought of dropping out and becoming a stripper, trust us — we’ve all been there,” he said to roaring laughter. “I swear I’m a good person.”
Brady Baker, class president, recognized civics and English teachers Linville Herald and Steven Jackson as they retire after decades of service to the school.
“Not only have I never had a better teacher, but I may never meet better people,” he said. “Those who come on in the future have big shoes to fill.”
On the 30th anniversary of his graduation from the school, Madison County Judge Chris Brown gave the commencement address.
“I am one of you, I am nothing special,” he said. “I grew up on a small farm on Glade Run Road. My mother was a teacher in Columbus and my father was a farmer and a truck driver.”
There is something in us all that can drive you to achieve what I have or whatever you wish to pursue, he told the graduates.
“After tonight, this is the end of participation trophies,” he said. “You eat what you kill. Not only will you be judged for your successes but for your failures. We all fail at some time but learning to overcome them develops us as people.”
Bollinger also gave some words for his class for the future.
“I encourage you not to chase down meaningless, superficial things,” he said. “Whether it’s farming or higher education, go after something you cherish.”
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, or on Twitter @msfkwiat.