Shedding the trappings of childhood in a time-honored ceremony; the Carthage High School Class of 2018 used a new venue to launch into adulthood at Commencement on Thursday, May 17.

Shedding the trappings of childhood in a time-honored ceremony; the Carthage High School Class of 2018 used a new venue to launch into adulthood at Commencement on Thursday, May 17.
Shining new David Haffner Stadium was packed with thousands of people as it hosted the first graduation ceremony held outside in Carthage in three years.
A total of 322 seniors accepted their diplomas and tossed their caps after singing happy birthday to classmate Ymbar Polanco's mom and listening to Dylan Calhoon's speech, which he told them would last exactly eight and a half minutes.
Principal Matt Huntley started things off, with the Moon and planet Venus overlooking the stadium in a bright pairing in the western sky, by reminding them of their new surroundings and some of the history that got the community to this point.
“In 1878, exactly 140 years ago, Carthage High School graduated its first ever class of seniors. There were a grand total of seven students in that first class,” Huntley said. “Tonight we will be graduating 322. It's a little sketchy, but those first graduation ceremonies seem to have taken place in an opera house on the square, currently, you can go there and visit it, it is McBride's Antique shop. In 1952, at 714 S. Main, the old High School to a lot of us here, was given a gymnasium and for the next decade or so, graduations were held there.
“Then in the mid-60s, graduations were moved to the newly constructed KE Baker Stadium, and for more than 50 years, students walked that track and crossed that stage. For the last three years, weather being fairly uncooperative, graduation has been held in the gymnasium of our lovely new high school to the north. Tonight our commencement marks the first ever ceremony to be held at David Haffner Stadium, 2700 S. River Street, Carthage, Missouri.”
Polanco and Calhoon, the top academic achievers of this class, were the featured speakers, and both reminded their classmates of some of the lessons they had learned since their first days as freshman “1,366 days ago,” according to Calhoon.
“These past few years together, we've laughed, danced, cried, loved, cried a little more, but most importantly, we've learned,” Polanco said. “Rapper Big Sean once said, there are no mistakes in life ever, it's only lessons. Life is full of lessons and it's not done teaching us. I'd like to share the most significant lessons I've grasped these last few years.
“Those lunch lines have taught me patience, unyielding patience that is, and the importance of showing up early. I guess good things really do come to those who wait.
“My friends have taught me that laughing can ease any pain and cure a hurting heart. But most importantly they've shown me that fake people are the only ones who remind you that they keep it real. The real ones never needed validation, we knew we had each other's backs.
“My family reminded me that real, genuine happiness does not come from monetary success, or fame or the accolades, but in the love and passion you have for those individuals sitting right next to you, those who have faithfully been by your side, those who don't judge you but truly love you.”
Calhoon talked about the three lessons he and his classmates learned to help them pass the biggest test of all waiting for them — life.
“As our time at Carthage High School comes to a close, class of 2018, it's important that we remember the words of American educator and author, Alexandra Trenfor, who once said that 'The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see,'” Calhoon said. “Our four years at Carthage High School have undoubtedly enhanced our vision as we move forward in life looking for success. As we cross this stage tonight, it is clear that the true lessons of our high school studies are not explicitly stated in the curriculum that we've studied this past four years, but are instead demonstrated by those who teach it. Their instruction has incorporated lessons of trust, drive, and passion, that have taught us about ourselves, each other and the world around us.
“This means that if life after high school truly is the next test that we face, then congratulations, Carthage High school's class of 2018. We couldn't be more prepared to ace this next test.”