It was time to celebrate efforts that led to accomplishments, said Ariadne West, class salutatorian, in her speech to the graduates.
She said it was a day that represented looking forward to the future, but that success should be individual to each person and personally defined.
"Never sacrifice your beliefs to try to get success," she said. "You have to find it yourself."
Rather than striving only for external achievements, success is often spending time doing what makes you happy and spending time helping others, she said.
Class valedictorian Katie Porter delivered a speech about possibilities. She spoke about great people of the past who overcame either discrimination, a disability or other obstacle to make changes to the world. Some of these included Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian who guided Lewis and Clark on their voyage of discovery; Helen Keller, a blind and deaf woman who has inspired millions; and Dr.Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the American Civil Rights moment.
She said that the greatest person that holds the possibility of helping young people, as well as all people, is Jesus Christ. She encouraged the students to seek Him as a source of strength and guidance.
The students and their friends and family which filled the gymnasium were welcomed by Principal Jason Uttermark and Superintendent of Schools Gary Harms. They both praised the students for their many accomplishments in the past year.
The crowd listened to several musical selections from the Central High School Choir and Band.
The acapella choir sang "Roots and Wings" as well as an original arrangement by graduating senior Michael Marmorstein. The choir consistently earns Superior Plus ratings at contests, said Harms.
Jazz Central received a loud ovation after its rendition of a complicated, jazz piece "Rippin’ N Runnin’ ”. The band was directed by Jerome Letcher. Uttermark praised the band, saying it consistently ranks as one of the best in the state.
Brian Sharp, school board president, presented the diplomas to each of the graduates as they walked across the stage with family and friends cheering.
Marmorstein said that he was excited to graduate.
"I was ready for it," he said. "I am ready to move on to college, but I will miss high school dearly."
He excelled in both music and mathematics in high school and plans to major in both in college.
He will attend Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., in the fall, he said.
"Besides studying, high school is about meeting people," he said. "You find out people support you."
Samantha Kinder, a graduate who sang in the choir, said. "I feel grateful to have made it this far. I have been a little teary at times, but it really feels good to graduate."
Jermal Lee, another graduate, said, "It has been great. It is a small step to bigger things. It is only the beginning."