Fort Osage High School

64th Commencement

Class size: 337 graduates

Valedictorian: Maya Baughn

Salutatorian: Francesca Rodriguez

Post-secondary: $3,866,767 in potential scholarship money ($76,050 in local scholarships)

Speaker, Marissa Peaslee: Peaslee, whose extra-curricular activities included track and cross country, compared the years of high school to portions of a distance race.

“At the end, you feel so tired, but then you look back and realize how quickly it went by,” she said. “There's a part of you that will miss it just a bit.”

Freshman year is the initial sprint – some people perhaps starting too fast – Peaslee said, sophomore year is when you settle in, junior year can be rough then you can see the end soon.

“You know you've got to finish with a sprint, but it's hard to not just jog,” she said, referring to senioritis creeping in a bit. It's not important so much where you finish, she added, but “that you push to the end.”

Speaker, Alexis Cook: She remembers when the class first all came together in fifth grade, and how for four school years she felt random more than anything.

Upon reaching freshman year, Cook said, “I wanted to find my voice, and once I started using voice to advocate for myself…I wanted to raise my voice.”

That was Cook's chief message to her classmates: raise your voice, whether it be to lead others, bring awareness to a cause or through artistic expression.

“There is something that every one of us is passionate about,” Cook said. “Stand up for those who have lost or don't have their voice.

“Be a part of something phenomenal. Now is the time to raise your voice.”

Cook told her classmates that they will encounter many opportunities in life to use their voice.

“We must take advantage of them,” she said. “Our voices are the future, and we have so much to say.”