Dozens of graduating seniors were celebrated Monday, June 22, at St. Clair’s annual Scholarship Night.

The event was the first time many students had seen each other since the coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of the campus in March. After months of uncertainty, they said it was nice for students and scholarship presenters to have an in-person ceremony.

“I think it meant a lot to our community to have the event,” Dr. Jennifer Davis, St. Clair High School’s principal, said after the hour-long ceremony. “They were able to see the students they are helping and to see the people who wrote the heartfelt essays.”

The event also honored Lonedell students.

Students also appreciated being able to get the scholarships in person

“I was afraid we’d all just have to stay at home or do it over Zoom,” said Grace Kelley, who earned five scholarships. “It’s really nice to see everybody.”

The St. Clair students, who graduate at  8:30 p.m. Thursday, worked hard to be able to earn the scholarships. One student, Emily Barkhurst, said she was a member of the student council, Key Club, Pep Club, National Honor Society, Link Leaders, history club, choir, color guard and the track and field and cheerleading teams.

“It’s a lot of work, you have to keep track of it all,” said Barkhurst, who will move on to Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Giradeau. “But, in the end, it is all worth it.”

In all, Barkhurst took home four scholarships.

The night was a mixture of scholarships presented in memory of someone and those presented by alumni groups or by civic groups, school organizations and businesses.

The students will remember the generosity of those in St. Clair, said Kelley, who will major in chemistry at Maryville University.

“I’m going to remember to always give back to where you come from,” she said. “Just remember the help you get from the community.”

Barkhurst also will work to keep the St. Clair spirit with her.

“I’m just trying to create a sense of family everywhere I go, because you immediately get that here in St. Clair,” she said.

Scholarship Night is usually held at the high school auditorium but was moved to the Edgar Murray Elementary School gym to better allow for social distancing. 

Davis said only three scholarship recipients missed the event, the highest attendance percentage for students in memory. That could have to do with a lack of competing team or club events, since those were all canceled months ago.