Both Principal Jen Ulrich and Superintendent Fred VanBibber are confident that the Lonedell School Class of 2013 has many successes ahead of it.
Both officials briefly spoke during commencement exercises Saturday afternoon in the school’s gymnasium. In all, 39 eighth-graders received diplomas.
“As we send these students off to high school, I am certain we can do so with confidence,” Ulrich said. “There is no need to be afraid, no need to be nervous and no need to fret.
“They’ve got this. ... They are going to fly. They are a group of kindhearted, hardworking, intelligent and special kids.”
VanBibber, who is retiring at the end of the current academic year, had similar comments.
“This is a great class in many respects,” he said. “It’s a well-rounded, outstanding class. They are a real asset to the Lonedell community. They will do well in high school and beyond.”
Five graduates were recognized for being the top academically in their class. They are Connor Hill, Elle Holden, Marissa Hulsey, Emily Sperley and Alexis Turley. Hulsey was recognized as valedictorian. Hill was the salutatorian.
Many of the students were recognized for academic achievement and were presented awards. BryAnna Haley was given the citizenship award.
Commencement exercises started with the annual tradition of the special eighth-grade class video. After the graduates marched in, Emiley Banks led all in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance and John Wagner recited the school pledge. Hailey Holland read the class poem.
The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade band also performed.
During her remarks, Ulrich provided some words of wisdom for the graduates.
“Always be kind, always work hard, don’t doubt your abilities, treat others with kindness and when the going gets tough, always have each other’s back,” she said. “After all, you all come from the same place.”
She also provided more words of encouragement.
“Each year I watch as we send a new group of students into the high school ranks, and each year the outgoing class of freshmen blows me away as I watch them succeed,” she said. “I am certain that this class will be no different. I wish them the best of luck in high school.
“Students, please know that as you always have, you will still have an entire school and community in Lonedell that stands behind you throughout your high school and beyond. You will always be a Bobcat, and we will always support you.
“It’s been a pleasure to be your principal, and I couldn’t be more proud of you.”
At the end of the ceremony, Ulrich and Lonedell R-XIV Board of Education Kathy Reed presented diplomas to the graduates.
They were: Zachary Arnold, Brittany Asher, Farrah Asher, Emiley Banks, Dalton Brissette, Ryan Borrini, Cyle Butenhoff, Lawson Davis, Jordan Dettmer, Kyle Fitzgerald, Kyle Frankenberg, Jeremiah Friend, BryAnna Haley, Connor Hill, Kristopher Hogue, Elle Holden, Hailey Holland, Kami Hughes, Marissa Hulsey, David Jones, Austin Kellar, Zachary Long, Alexis MacKenzie, Trenton Martin, Kirsten Mills, Luke Moultrie, Paul Pugh, Austin Reese, Andrew Reeves, Robert Rodden, Tyianna Rogan, Alan Scott, Emily Sperley, Alexis Turley, Diego Vargas, John Wagner, Marshal Wagner, Anthony Wakefield and Jessie Whitaker.
VanBibber was a part of his final commencement as superintendent of the school district. He announced his retirement earlier in the year and will be replaced by Ulrich. Special Education Coordinator Sue Emmons will take over this fall as principal.
His last official day on the job is June 30.
“It’s been a great journey for me,” VanBibber said this week. “This is bittersweet. I’m looking forward to retirement, but it’s been very rewarding being a part of this district. It’s a good district with good people. The students, staff and community all have enhanced the climate of education, and we’re all proud of that.”
VanBibber announced his retirement in February. It didn’t take the local board of education long to name Ulrich as his replacement and Emmons as principal.
VanBibber, 55, has been the R-XIV superintendent for four years. Prior to Lonedell, he was a teacher for and principal in the Norwood R-I School District east of Springfield for 20 years. He also served as a member of the Mountain Grove school board from 2000-2004.
“I’m proud of what we have accomplished here,” VanBibber told The Missourian. “Everyone here does a great job. We have a good board, good teachers and a good administration. ... I’m confident we’re in good shape in all aspects of the district. It’s just a good time for me to retire.”