The Chariton High School Commencement ceremony was held at the CHS gym on Sunday afternoon. A total of 69 graduates were awarded diplomas at the ceremony.

The CHS Commencement returned to its normal location and time this year after being held at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in mid June last year due to COVID-19.

Mikayla McCurdy was named the class valedictorian and Sailor Anderson was named the class salutatorian. McCurdy is the daughter of Corie and Casey Gwinn and Andrew McCurdy. Anderson is the daughter of Tom and Jodi Anderson.

CHS Principal Tracy Hall gave the opening welcome. “I’m very pleased to have everyone join us. Thank you for joining us to honor the Class of 2021,” Hall said.

The CHS Band then performed “Endless Rainbows” by Brian Balmages under the direction of CHS Band Director Sam Nau. Following this, the CHS Chorus performed “Seasons of Love” by Larson, arranged by Emerson under the direction of Tyler Urich.

Senior Sailor Anderson gave one of the class addresses. “Welcome students, parents, staff, and especially the graduating class of 2021. It’s no surprise to see we have made it here to finally receive our diplomas for the hard work we have put in these past 13 years. Four years ago, I walked into this high school with no idea how the remainder of my basic education would end. I am going to be completely honest. High school has not exactly been how I pictured it. I assume I can speak for most of the class of 2021 when I say this. We’ve been through some things most have not. And we have learned a lot…not only have we learned that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but we have also learned a lot about life, even if it may not have seemed like it,” Anderson said.

Anderson also gave some takeaways all the graduates should know before they walk out of the high school doors. One takeaway is to always be prepared. Another takeaway she mentioned was persistence.

“I think the greatest act of persistence is my dad walking the halls and stopping every single person who does in fact breathe oxygen and telling them they should run cross country. Hey, it works out and eventually they cave and show up to practice, sometimes. In all honesty, every one of us has faced obstacles or will eventually run into something that seems like an impossible mountain to climb. We will want to give up, but always remember that the view from the top is worth it. Never give up,” Anderson said.

“So as the class of 2021 goes forth onto this next phase of life, I encourage each and every one of you to take Chariton with you. The memories, people, and love this place holds will never be forgotten. Remember, once a Charger, always a Charger,” Anderson said in conclusion.

Senior Sam Ilyenko gave the other address and told about past Chariton Commencement ceremonies he has attended. He told about different things he remembered from them such as former Chariton School Board President Dr. Craig Scott telling what gas prices in the 1960s were.

Ilyenko also told the graduating seniors some things they should do. “Set goals and work like an animal to meet those goals. Give everything you do 100 percent. Have fun and enjoy being with family and friends. Also, put your trust in God. Thanks to the Class of 2021 for selecting me to speak today. It was an honor,” Ilyenko said.

CHS Principal Hall did the Presentation of Class and then the diplomas were handed out. Hall then did the presentation of honors.

The Silver Cord recipients (160 hours of community service) were as follows: Dylan Anderson, Sailor Anderson, Megan Aulwes, Angelynne Blagsvedt, Devon Brown,, Zy D’Attilio, Mikayla McCurdy, Madelyn McFarland, Bailey Shelton, Zach Steinhausen, Clara Stuart and Tenley Williams.

The senior class members of National Honor Society were as follows: Sailor Anderson, Megan Aulwes, Alex Bates, Zy D’Attilio, Hallee Davidson, Sam Ilyenko, Mikayla McCurdy, Macray Rich, Bailey Shelton, Brenna Shriver, Clara Stuart, Esther Sundquist, Deidre Wiest and Tenley Williams.

The members making up the top 10 percent of the 2021 senior class were as follows: Sailor Anderson, Megan Aulwes, Zy D’Attilio, Tori Good, Sam Ilyenko, Mikayla McCurdy, Ethan Poling, Mark Pyatak, Haylee Sonius and Clara Stuart.

Chariton Superintendent Larry Achenbach gave the closing remarks. “As we close today, I’d like to thank the parents and families of the seniors. Without you this day wouldn’t be possible. We started this school year in hybrid learning, and then we went to face to face learning but had to wear a mask. You learned about contact tracing and quarantining. You’ll be able to tell your grandchildren about these things. All of these things have made you stronger. You’ve already met many challenges, but now you’re ready to graduate. In my opinion, with what you’ve been through this year, you should be well on your way to success,” Achenbach said.

The CHS Band played the school fight song at the end of the ceremony.