Emma Davis is excited to begin the next part of her life while attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City next fall. The 2010 Blue Springs High School graduate plans to major in chemistry, all because of the influence of one teacher – Evan Manuel.

Emma Davis is excited to begin the next part of her life while attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City next fall. The 2010 Blue Springs High School graduate plans to major in chemistry, all because of the influence of one teacher – Evan Manuel.

“Mr. Manuel is an amazing teacher and he influenced my decision to study chemistry in college,” she said. “I think what I am going to do is take a bunch of courses to see what area I want to study further. I want to see where my interests are before I make any final decisions of what I want to do with my life.”

Sunday, 520 graduates received their diplomas from Blue Springs High School during commencement exercises at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. Among the highlights for the class of 2010 are two National Merit Finalists, four National Merit Commended Scholars and 38 Bright Flight Scholars. These students earned at least a 31 on the ACT exam. In total, the senior class received more than $4.2 million in scholarships.

Hannah Engelhardt and Darius Wilson were selected as the senior class speakers.

Using an experience in elementary school, Engelhardt urged her classmates to not focus on the past, but to reach toward the future.

“Life is like modeling clay. We can shape it into anything we want,” she said. “If we get tired of it, we can change it into something new. But please, whatever you do, don’t fixate on the past. Acknowledge its existence and move onto your future.”

Wilson challenged the class of 2010 to once again become dreamers. Somewhere along the way, dreaming stopped, but he said he wants that to change and for the world of dreamers to be brought back once again.

“As I look at my classmates, I see people who have the talent and brilliance to change the world,” he said. “Start dreaming again. Start believing again. When you open a door, you have two choices – go through and stay in one spot or keep going to reach another door. Strive to be the very best and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make the future your own.”

Graduate Austin Echelmeier said he is excited to be graduating, but will miss the friends he has made in activities such as theater, orchestra and the National Honor Society.

“I don’t think I will get the chance to be on stage again, so that I will miss. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot,” he said. “Just be yourself. I tried not being myself and it made me disappointed. Being yourself in high school will make the experience that much better.”

Graduate Molly Need said it is the teachers at Blue Springs High School that she will miss the most. It is these people, she said, who taught her so much in the classroom and about life.

“We had great teachers, so leaving them will be hard,” she said. “I think it is just important to work hard in high school. It will get so much tougher when you get to college, so why not put in the work now. That is what I learned.”