Jill Smith does not know what to expect next, but she is excited for college life now that she is a high school graduate.

Jill Smith does not know what to expect next, but she is excited for college life now that she is a high school graduate.

“I think it is important for people to stick it out and do their best in high school, especially in their senior year,” said the 2012 Blue Springs High School graduate, who will attend Northwest Missouri State University this fall. “I am going to definitely miss my friends, just because we have always been there for each other.”

Smith was one of 518 graduates to participate in the Blue Springs High School commencement exercises Sunday at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City. The 2012 senior class included one National Merit Finalist, one National Merit Semifinalist, five National Merit Commended Scholars and 42 Missouri Bright Flight Scholars. The class also received more than $5.6 million in academic and athletic scholarships.

Julia Dury and Ida Ayalew were selected to address the senior class.

In her address, Dury said each and every person in the senior class has a different dream. She said some are more realistic, while others are not. What is important to remember, she said, is to do everything possible to make those dreams happen.

“Today, we sit as the class of 2012, and we, as a class, have very different goals,” she said. “Wherever you land, you can be great. Don’t let yourself settle for anything less. Dreams can come true. You can do whatever you set your mind to. Just think it, just believe it and just do it. Just go after your dream with all your heart and without reservation.”

Ayalew described the next chapter in life as being an airplane pilot. She said like a pilot, the decisions made after graduation will be remembered for the rest of the seniors’ lives. She said even during challenging times they must continue along their “flight patterns” until they return on course.

“We must believe in ourselves. If we don’t believe in ourselves, then we will defeat ourselves,” she said. “Our adventures may not go as planned, but even if it storms, they will always pass. No matter where life takes us, success can always be accomplished.”

Graduate Abbey Andrews said graduating is bittersweet because it is the end of everything she knows. She plans on attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City to study nursing in the fall.

“Nursing runs in my family, and I think it would be a good career for me. I like helping others,” she said. “Underclassmen need to keep doing their best in school because, eventually, it does pay off.”

Graduate Jody Goers said she is excited to finally be done with high school so she can move on to new experiences. She plans on attending Missouri Western State University to study biology and health sciences.

“I will definitely miss all of my teachers. They made me feel like I was a person, not a number,” she said. “I think it is important to get involved in high school. It will help you to make friends and help students to enjoy high school.”