COLUMBIA — As rain came down about two hours before the start of Rock Bridge High School’s graduation, Alex Litofsky was showering and getting ready to leave for the ceremony.
Litofsky, one of four valedictorians, said one thing would be going through her mind before she went on stage: “Don’t trip.”
Litofsky worked hard during high school, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout her four years.
And she commended her fellow classmates for leaving their own legacies at Rock Bridge.
“We definitely have a bunch of talented kids in our class, athletically and academically,” Litofsky said. “I think we were a pretty special class.”
Her parents, Mary Beth and Scott Litofsky, were excited to see their daughter graduate, but still held mixed feelings about her leaving for college in the fall.
“This is very bittersweet,” Mary Beth Litofsky said. “More so for the kids. For seniors, it’s probably a little more exciting.”
Litofsky’s story was just one among many as Rock Bridge bid farewell to the 551 graduates who made up the class of 2008.
It was exciting for the seniors who confidently strode into Mizzou Arena, sporting grins and wearing green robes.
One senior, Rafiel Lee, was eager to share his graduation day with his mother.
“It just seemed like it was always so far away. It hasn’t hit me yet,” Lee said. “I just feel like this is great for my mom because she’s been the one to help me out.”
Parents came in from the drizzle outside to the more than 15,000-seat arena, and found the perfect seat to see their graduate walk the stage. The Rock Bridge High School band began playing “Pomp and Circumstance” as the audience stood to honor the class.
A sea of green filled the floor of the arena while seniors and parents alike waved and shouted upon recognizing a face in the crowd.
Shortly after, Principal Kathy Ritter gave a welcome address that commended the talents and achievements of the graduates.
She said that it was both students’ and teachers’ efforts that helped them achieve their successes.
“We are a school in which adults and students work as a team to reach common goals,” Ritter said.
Sheela Lal, a senior who gave the commencement address, highlighted the importance of unity.
She noted that while each senior belonged to different cliques and groups, they all made the effort to understand each other’s differences and learn from them.
“We, the class of 2008, are ahead of the curve. Our worlds are already overlapping,” Lal said. “This blending is what will propel us into the future.”
For many seniors, the future holds higher education, full-time jobs or enlistment into the military.
Susan Strecker, stepmother of Michael Strecker holds high hopes for the future of her son.
“I think if they had a good four years of high school, college will be an adventure.” Strecker said.