TUPELO – Mooreville High School graduates dressed in caps and gowns mingled with each other for perhaps the final time at the BancorpSouth Arena on Saturday.
The 2017 installment of MHS graduation included the largest graduating class to leave the school’s halls at 112 students. Some 51 out those 112 students graduated with special distinction or honors, a record number scored a 28 or better on the ACT and the school’s senior-laden fast pitch softball and baseball team won a state championship.
MHS principal Lee Bruce said he had one word for a class that brought home $500,000 in scholarship money – exceptional.
“If the question is what this class can do in the future, it is anything they want to,” Bruce said. “They have been given all of the tools to succeed, and they have the work ethic to make something special out of it.”
Bo Thomas and Chase Patterson were awarded valedictorian and salutatorian of the class of 2017, respectively.
Thomas said he was upset when he was given the distinction of valedictorian. He had to spend the next week stressing about what he was going to say during his valedictorian address.
After a while, he said, it was easy to decide on a central theme for his speech.
“The spirit of competition at Mooreville is something that I don’t really see at other schools,” Thomas said. “It was never about outdoing the next person, it was the fact that I wanted to outdo that person because I want to make them better and, in turn, make myself better.”
Thomas plans to attend Mississippi State University in the fall and major in mechanical engineering.
While he doesn’t have any dream job in mind, he believes he has a big future ahead of him.
“I know that 50 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have engineering degrees,” Thomas said. “I’m really just trying to see where the wind takes me.”
Thomas’ classmates, Alix Bean and Kaylee Strickland, will be spending their fall semesters at Itawamba Community College. The pair just wrapped up their first semester at ICC while still in high school.
“I feel like I already graduated,” Bean said jokingly.
Bean plans on going into the Health Information Technology program, which trains students to do office work for hospitals, because she doesn’t “want to deal with blood.”
However, Strickland said she will go into college undecided.
“I’m not sure what I want to major in, but I’m going to take it one step at a time,” she said. “I’ve got all the time in the world to figure it out.”