Kelsie Leutzinger is sad. A 2011 graduate of William Chrisman High School, she is happy to be done with her high school education, but she also is aware that graduation means leaving her friends behind.

Kelsie Leutzinger is sad. A 2011 graduate of William Chrisman High School, she is happy to be done with her high school education, but she also is aware that graduation means leaving her friends behind.

“I have been with this group of friends for more than four years. I don’t want to leave them,” said Leutzinger, who plans to attend MCC-Blue River in the fall to work toward becoming a mathematics teacher. “All of my friends are going in different directions to different colleges. I don’t want them to leave.”

Friends and family watched 290 William Chrisman graduates receive their diplomas Sunday at the Community of Christ Auditorium. The graduating class includes 38 students who received academic honor cords, 18 students in the top 5 percent and five students who received a Missouri College Preparatory Studies Certificate.

Rebekah Friesz, Catherine Robinson and Steven Todorovich received the Independence Board of Education’s Scholarship Awards. The award is given to those students in the top 1 percent of the senior class who have been in the Independence School District for all four years of high school.

The William Chrisman Concert Chorale sang two songs – “Walk in My Shoes” and “All My Heart This Night Rejoices.” The senior class earned more than $1.8 million in scholarships.

“The class of 2011 is an outstanding group of young men and women,” Chrisman principal Mike Becker told the graduates. “Through hard work and dedication, you have succeeded. You have carried on the tradition of excellence at William Chrisman High School.”

Todorovich said graduation day is the day the entire class has been waiting for the last 13 years. He said it is a day that can only be described as momentous.

“Every trial, every tribulation and every triumph has helped to shape us into the people we are today,” he said. “Let the accomplishments of our past stand for our achievements of the future.”

Graduate Jessie King said she is excited to graduate but will miss seeing all of her friends every day. She said she is a little nervous for the future, but is ready to have new experiences.

“Don’t slack off your senior year,” she said to future graduates of William Chrisman. “It will come back and bite you like it did me this year.”

Graduate Cameron Abbott said he believes his most memorable class at William Chrisman was physics. It is classes such as these, he said, that he will miss the most. He plans to attend MCC-Blue River in the fall.

“That class was fun, and I learned a lot,” he said. “I wish my class good luck and success in whatever they decide to do now that we are done with high school.”

Graduate Courtney Roberts said she believes graduation is slightly scary because it means moving on with life and leaving everyone and everything she knows behind. Roberts plans to attend Missouri State University in Springfield to study education.

“I had a couple of teachers inspire me, and I decided I wanted to make a difference in a student’s life as they did for me,” she said. “I am excited to get to college so I can earn my degree and get started with my career. I am looking forward to that so much.”