19 Trojans march into the future at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School graduation

The 2018 graduating class of Marais des Cygnes Valley High School. Photo by Jerry Kramer, Kramer Photos.

Springtime marks the beginning of new life, but also the end of another school year. With graduation season here, 19 Trojans led the way in collecting their hard-earned diplomas May 6, 2018, at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School, at Melvern, Kan.

In his address to family, friends and well-wishers at the ceremony Sunday, MdCV  salutatorian Kaden Armbrister noted the finality of graduating, but also the promise of the future.

“High school graduation finds itself among a very short list of life milestones that serve to mark both an end and a beginning,” Armbrister said. “This way-point is the end of our official childhood, and the beginning to our years as adults.”

The salutatorian recognized everyone present at the graduation and their roles in the graduates’ childhoods and “paving the way to make us better, more prepared adults.”

He noted that memories will remain but the graduates will face new paths toward the future.

“What is important is not what exactly each of us is going to do, but the knowledge that there are so many possibilities within our reach,” he said. “My sincere wish is that each of us
chooses the path that is best for us, and a great future waits.”

MdCV valedictorian Kali Holt encouraged her classmates to take a break and pause before jumping off into the future.

“Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are torn between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future,” Holt said. “Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives, or instead, should we focus on the next stage in our journey?”

Holt noted the graduates’ lives had been forever altered from their time at MdCV and “after we toss our caps into the air.”

“This town being where we made all of our memories together, we can’t forget where we come from,” she said.

“Here is my advice: I believe this isn’t the time to make hard, fast decisions,” she said. “The moment you cross this stage, be a little reckless and carefree. Go make mistakes … do something out of your comfort zone.

“Admit what your dreams are,” she said. “Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do.”

Holt told the graduates that only they could determine their future success.

“I cannot emphasize enough that success is not defined by how much money you make, how big your home is, or how many likes your social media posts arc getting. It is about the amazing people that are a part of your life, the memories you will make along the way, the way that you impact the lives of the ones around you, and the genuine happiness that you will feel when all these attributes come together. That is success,” she said.

After the salutatorian and valedictorian recognition, MdCV counselor Abby Robertson introduced the senior class of 2018, which was then presented for graduation by MdCV Superintendent Ted Hessong.

Members of the USD 456 Board of Education presented diplomas to the following graduates: Kaden Lee Armbrister, William Harrison Booth, Savannah Diann Cannon, Dakota Joe Chapman, Noah James Oren Criqui, Dominik Dylan Crowell, Jevan Scott Gregg, Amya Nicole Hidalgo, Kendra Sue Holloway, Kali Nicole Holt, Dalton Jones Hook, Kylie Jordann Hughes, Brennan Wayne Irey, Garrett Paul Scott Johnson, Samuel Chase Jones, Daniel Adams Siroky, Richard Allen Vest, Makaya Jaquin Weber, Josey Rene Weimer.

Graduation attendants and procession leaders were Brookelyn Janssen, Cloe Volkman, Ethan Cannon, and Gannon Schimmel. Josey Weimer made closing remarks. The MdCV High School and Junior High Band provided the “Pomp and Circumstance” for the processional and recessional.

USD 456 board members are Greg McCurdy, president, Jamie Sowers, vice president, Mark Goodrich, Caleb McNally, Mark Lacey, and Beth Weimer. Dirk Canon and Tammy Vanderpool were the 2018 senior class sponsors.


2018 awards, scholarships and recipients

  • Dale Dennis Excellence in Education Award, Josey Weimer
  • Governor’s Scholar, Kali Holt
  • Community Service Award, Kali Holt
  • Kansas Scholar Curriculum Completer, Kali Holt
  • Carol and Jessie Thurston Memorial, Josey Weimer
  • Woodward, Belt, Heilmann, Arb, American Legion and Auxiliary Scholarship, Kali Holt
  • Wendell Allison Memorial, Jevan Gregg, Kali Holt, Dalton Hook, Josey Weimer
  • MdCV Booster Club, Dalton Hook, Josey Weimer
  • Philip Spencer Memorial Scholarship, Osage County Fire District No. 3, Jevan Gregg
  • R.E. French Family Educational Foundation, Kali Holt
  • Melvern Marais des Cygnes Alumni Association, Savannah Cannon, Jevan Gregg, Kali Holt, Dalton Hook, Kendra Holloway, Josey Weimer
  • Lala Beth Weis Memorial Scholarship, Savannah Cannon
  • Hometown Agriculture Scholarship, Jevan Gregg
  • MdCV FFA Scholarship, Kali Holt, Dalton Hook, Josey Weimer
  • National FFA, Kali Holt
  • Don Lichtenauer Family Scholarship, Dalton Hook
  • Lawrence Lester McNabb Technical Scholarship, Jevan Gregg
  • Garard Family Scholarship, Kaden Armbrister
  • Lawrence Lester McNabb Scholarship, Kali Holt

Salutatorian Kaden Armbrister and valedictorian Kali Holt. Photo by Jerry Kramer.

Valedictorian and salutatorian speeches

By MdCV Salutatorian Kaden Armbrister, 2018

To the parents, families, friends, fellow Trojan graduates and faculty members. Welcome! Today marks the graduation of the 2018 senior class of Marais des Cygnes Valley High School. High School graduation finds itself among a very short list of life milestones that serve to mark both an end, and a beginning. This way-point is the end of our official childhood, and the beginning to our years as adults.

Each of you present here today played a role in both enriching those childhoods and paving the way to make us better, more prepared adults. Thank you parents for your unconditional love, unrelenting push to make us better, and any and all extra snacks you were gracious enough to provide. Thank you teachers for the hours you endured with us in class, and especially for all those hours to put in outside the class that you think no one recognizes. WE DO. Thank you fellow graduates for reminding us all that we are not alone, but also that we are all different and those differences have value. And finally, thank you to the faculty of Marais des Cygnes Valley, in particular are Super-Principendent Mr. Hessong for finishing out our year.

For each of you, and for all you have done, thank you! How about a round of applause for YOU?

There are a lot of memories from high School that will never leave us. I’m also sure that there are a lot of memories that we HOPE leave us! But we will each of us eventually someday look back fondly on the days without the stresses of adult life, when it felt more like adventure than trial.

There are so many paths that we may travel down from here. Some of us may go on to college, and learn even more amazing things. Others may continue technical education, and keep strong the backbone of industry. Still others already have jobs to go to, or plans in the works. What is important is
not what exactly each of us is going to do, but the knowledge that there are so many possibilities within our reach. My sincere wish is that each of us chooses the path that is best for us, and a great future waits. May the years be kind to us all, and may we all be blessed with success!


By MdCV Valedictorian Kali Holt, 2018

Welcome family, friends, faculty, alumni, and class of 2018. I am honored to be able to represent
my class.

My fellow students, we only arrived here four short years ago, and now it’s already time to leave. 1,460 days of wondering, wondering if we would make it to this day.

I’m going to start off my speech with a list of thank yous. Thank you to the parents who did not mind that we were awake until 2 a.m. to finish a paper due the next day. Thank you to the teacher that dress coded every one of us girls for wearing leggings or a tank top. Thank you to the teachers who gave too much homework on game days, or just too much in general. Thank you, classmates. Some days you made my classes bearable and some days you made me wish a bear would eat you.

Graduation is one of those awkward times in our lives when we are tom between the joy of our memories and the excitement of our future. Should we look back on what were the greatest four years of our lives, or instead, should we focus on the next stage in our journey?

We’ve been impatiently waiting for this day for four years – and now, we just want to hit pause. We want to slow it down and enjoy the last fleeting moments. Our lives will be forever altered after we toss our caps into the air.

They say that high school is the best time of our lives. I understand for some of us this was not the case. But whether some of us will admit it or not, there are things we are all thankful for throughout these past four years.

One of the flaws in human nature is to focus on the negative things in life. Because of this, over the past few years, almost all of us have been sitting around groaning about how excited we are to leave this town and this school behind us. But with this town being where we made all of our memories together, we can’t forget where we come from.

We entered high school as an unwritten book eager to fill the pages. A book that would be written in our own terms. The diploma that we will receive today represents success and achievement, but we must remember more of the journey that accompanied this achievement – both the heartache and happiness.

As freshmen, I will never forget the hatred we endured from all the upperclassmen and teachers as soon as we stepped foot in the hallways. Luckily, we didn’t care because we believed that we were already on top of the food chain, we were gonna run the school. We did not care if nobody liked us, because we loved us. Authority meant nothing to us, this may be why Mr. Baxter contemplated quitting and finding a new profession. We were out of control. I say we because in most cases we were in it together. We endured punishments, extra amounts of work assigned due to behavior, trips to the principal, and detentions. Our class is full of many different personalities, and strong ones for that matter. We are a lot to handle, especially when we are together as a group. This could be why it was so hard to find senior class sponsors to take us on our senior trip, nobody wanted that responsibility. We finally talked worrisome Mrs.Vanderpool into going.

I have not laughed harder than the moment when Mrs.Vanderpool practically form tackled Brennan to the ground while the boys were wrestling in the house. Afterwards, she got up and said, “I have been waiting four years to do that.” As much as it has been said that MdCV is ready to get our class out of here, I know that we will be missed by those who will never admit it, mostly referring to the teachers, Mrs.Vanderpool.

I was told that with every speech, advice is to be given. So, here is my advice: I believe this isn’t the time to make hard, fast decisions. The moment you cross this stage, be a little reckless and carefree. Go make mistakes, change your major over and over again, do something out of your comfort zone, fall in love over and over and over again. Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your mom.

Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do tomorrow, work hard and don’t be lazy, and put away your phone every once in awhile. Be nice to the jerks, because we still don’t know the criteria for getting into heaven yet.

Now, I know I’m not close with all of you, but I am thankful for every single person sitting in front of me. It is crazy to think this is the last time we will be together in one place all at the same time. You have all taught me extremely valuable lessons these past four years, lessons I don’t even remember learning. Lessons that no one else could ever teach me, lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.

When we leave here, we will all change, and that is okay. I know this is okay and it is going to be okay because Mr. Thurston told me it was. He said, if you are not happy with who you are now, or you are too afraid to be who you have always wanted to be, this is your time to become who you believe you were meant to be. If you are tired of being the class clown, stop. If you are tired of people looking at you as the dumb blonde, change. If you used to be loud and want to become quiet and more to yourself, do it. Heck, if you want to become Goth, do it now. People are going to judge you, but that is inevitable. Fortunately, the people who are judging you don’t know you like the people within this community. They don’t know who you used to be, your past, the rumors that were made, and the reputation that you have. This is your clean slate, this is the time to create the life you have always wanted to live.

Each and every one of us was meant to do something big, something life-changing. I cannot wait to see what paths you all take, and the obstacles you overcome. Everyone will have a different view on what they’ll consider an “A” in life”. I pray that you do not let anyone determine your success, for you are the only one who can decide if you are living a successful life. I cannot emphasize enough that success is not defined by how much money you make, how big your home is, or how many likes your social media posts are getting. It is about the amazing people that are a part of your life, the memories you will make along the way, the way that you impact the lives of the ones around you, and the genuine happiness that you will feel when all these attributes come together. That is success.

I want to leave you with a quote.

“One day it just clicks. You realize what’s important and what isn’t. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think about yourself. You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you’ve fought to become.”

You all have so much to proud of, and I hope that you are. We did it!

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