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2000, 2001, 2002 8th Grade Graduations

2002 Graduation

Class of 2006 is a special one

By LUKE HOCKMAN Valedictorian

   Good evening and welcome to the 2002 Diamond Eighth Grade Graduation. When I learned that I was chosen to be valedictorian, I thought, "Hey! This is great." However, I heard about giving a speech, and believe me, it's not the most fun thing in the world.

   First off, I'd like to say a very special thank you to all who helped me reach this point. I couldn't have done anything without the help of the Lord, as through him all things are possible. He sent his only son to save us and I am eternally in his debt.

   All the teachers and other school staff have also helped me greatly by letting me make up assignments and tests that I missed, and helped me with other projects besides schoolwork.

   The people I'd like to give the biggest thanks to, though, are my family. My mom and dad have helped me tremendously over the years. They were always there for me and always will be.

   I believe that this year's eighth grade class is a special one and a perfect freshman class for the new high school...if we ever get into it. We will be the first class to attend all four high school years in the new building. And, we are eagerly looking forward to the opportunities that high school will bring to us, such as driving cars and not having to take spelling tests. All through junior high, we have been preparing for the next four years and I believe that we are ready for new challenges and experiences. We, the class of 2006, are smart, athletic and motivated to make the best of the future!

   Diamond is steadily getting bigger and with growth comes challenges that lead to greatness. Thanks to the dedication of our teachers, staff and school board, the Class of 2006 has been well prepared for high school and is capable of accomplishing much more in the years to come.

   Academically, Diamond already has scored some of the highest MAP scores in southwestern Missouri; outperforming many larger schools. The academic team also took first in the Ozark 8 and traveling leagues. The Class of 2006 will continue this high level of academic accomplishment and make the community proud, both academically and in sports.

   Our high school football team is poised for greatness and the Class of 2006 will make a great contribution to the team. Many of the volleyball players have a chance to play for the varsity team their freshman year and definitely their sophomore year. Both the boys and girls basketball teams are excellent and will add a lot to the high school teams. Many of these players have the skills to go on and play college ball.

   Most people in Missouri haven't heard about Diamond and I must tell them we are located southeast of Joplin and Diamond is the home of the George Washington Carver National Monument.

   Nobody can tell exactly what the future will bring, but I predict that by the time that we are seniors, Diamond will be known for much greater things. And people from Joplin will be using Diamond to tell where they are from! Maybe we will be nationally recognized for outstanding achievements. Or maybe Diamond will be the hometown for more great scientists or athletes. Through hard work and effort, I believe that the Class of 2006 has the potential, skill and motivation to accomplish any of these, or anything else they endeavor.

   In conclusion, I'd like to challenge my classmates. The next four years should be the best years of our lives, and then again, they could be the worst. We will be freshmen next year and everybody knows that the freshmen are the first targets of almost all the high school bullies and pranksters. But remember, we will be upperclassmen one day and that far outweighs the challenges of making it to the top, so give it your best and stick it out.

   The decisions you make in high school can greatly affect the rest of your life. If you make wise choices, chances are you will have a great life, and vice-versa. Make the best of it, and remember, as richest man in the world Bill Gates said to the graduates of Kingwood College, "Be nice to nerds. Chances are that you will be working for one someday."

   I look forward to your friendship and our future accomplishments together. GO CLASS OF 2006!


Class of 2006 takes huge step

By LAUREN FETTERS Salutatorian

   Eighth grade graduation is a huge step in one's education. We are finished with half of our schooling, yet it's not the end of anything, it's the beginning. It's a transition to more responsibility, from kids to young adults and to a higher education.

   Most of us are just 14 and 15 years old, but it's times like these that we have to look toward our future goals and realities. Going into high school, we have to be strong and confident, willing to make sacrifices and to be open-minded. No one told us how these past three years would be, and no one will tell us how these next four years will go, because it's up to us to determine our future.

Diamond eighth graders graduate

By RANDY TURNER Diamond Daily sponsor

   Amanda McKee was ready to take that next big step. She waited for her name to be called so she could cross the stage, accept her certificate of promotion signifying the end of her middle school years, then return to her seat. There was no one standing in front of her. It was her turn.

   She had been nervous since before the ceremony. R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo, who was the featured speaker, attempted to reassure her. "He told me he was proud of our class and he said there was nothing for me to be nervous about. And those words helped, but now the big moment had finally arrived.

   Robert Blizzard, high school principal, called out the name, "Amanda..." and Amanda began to step forward..."Matthiessen." Amanda Matthiessen was unable to be at the ceremony. Amanda McKee, hearing the proper first name called, was already two steps into her walk when she realized that it wasn't her last name that was being called.

   "I wasn't ready for that," she said. "I didn't think about her." The next name Mr. Blizzard called out was Amanda's and she glided across the stage and accepted her certificate with nary a glitch.

   It was a special night for Amanda McKee and the other members of the future Diamond High School Class of 2006. The class was described by valedictorian Luke Hockman as "a special one and a perfect freshman class for the new high school...if we ever get it."

   The night featured a combination of joy and nerves for the eighth graders. Nicki Dame licked her lips over and over again as she sat in her corner seat. For Kalen Allerton, who is entering his final week as a Diamond student (he is moving into the Neosho school district), it was sort of a farewell. He bit his lip and took several deep breaths before his name was called. For big smiles, the honors went to Liz Arnold, another student who won't be in the Diamond School District next year (she will attend Joplin schools). Casey Brown gave a brief wave of her certificate after she crossed the stage. Casey Patterson gave his name a round of applause while Michael Weaver's face was decorated with a big "aw shucks," grin.

   It took only a few moments for the names of the 59 class members to be called.

   Eighth graders in the top ten, in addition to Hockman and salutatorian Lauren Fetters, were Liz Arnold, Taunie Brewer, Michelle Darr, Greg Dodson, Amanda McKee, Jeff Morris, Casey Patterson and Brittney Stevens.

   Members of the Diamond Middle School Class of 2002 are: Kalen Allerton, Liz Arnold, Ryan Baker, Zach Barger, Kevin Barker, Corey Bass, Josh Bass, Kayla Bass, Maggie Bowman, Taunie Brewer, Blake Broaddus, Alyson Brown, Casey Brown, Jodi Brown, Brittany Busse, Robert Castro, Mikeal Cooper, Ryan Cosby, Nicki Dame, Michelle Darr, Stephanie David, Sam DeBoer, Caleb DeVillier, Greg Dodson, Josh Dresslaer, Lauren Fetters, Tia Finley, Ricki Fountain, Megan Frazier, John Gossard, Austin Greninger, Katy Hext, Luke Hockman.

   Also, Nate Jones, Shannon Keefer, Wendy Lacy, Chad Leuellen, Adam Marney, Corey Marshall, Amanda Matthiessen, Amanda McKee, Mechelle McNett, Naomi Miller, Jeff Morris, Brittany Musial, Amanda Nally, Casey Patterson, Daniel Price, Darci Price, Carra Shaffer, Cole Shipman, Jessie Smart, Brittney Stevens, Tanner Stevens, Jerry Stewart, Betty Thorp, Michael Weaver, Jake Youngblood and Tyler Youngblood.

   Eighth grade sponsors were Mrs. Ann Patrick and Mrs. Nancy Berry.

2001 Graduation


Texts of the addresses delivered by Diamond Eighth Grade valedictorians Kristen Hicks and Lendi Stirewalt are reprinted below:

By Kristen Hicks
Good evening. Thank your for coming. We are all glad to be where we are and have worked very hard along the way. Many people have helped us get where we are today. Those who have helped me personally are God, my parents, my family, all of my teachers, and the friends who have always been there for me.
Throughout the past years, our class has stuck together through good and bad, thick and thin. We have braved new classrooms and new teachers, new hallways, and soon we will start high school, a whole new adventure.
Together, Lendi and I have started out in new environments, and somehow, we managed to end up in the same class each year through fifth grade. We began kindergarten with Mrs. Rea. Being her first class, we really broke her in for what was to come.
Then we moved on to Mrs. Brummett's first grade class where I always remember crying when she wasn't in the room after recess. Next came Mrs. Herron's class, where we were always anxious to get into the big boat and read. Poor Mrs. Murray, she will never forget our class, because one of the kids broke her favorite porcelain dragon. I will never forget how Mrs. Gilbert always ate the orange peel, which most of us didn't like at all. Fifth grade brought the changing of classes between Mr. Higginson, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Knorpp. Finally, middle school began and brought with it a whole new world with seven classes, seven teachers, and lockers to keep clean. It also helped us catch a glimpse of what was coming our way.
We have participated in activities such as Young Authors, math and science competitions, spelling bees, and class trips. A big part of these activities was to teach us how to be both humble winners and gracious losers.
Our class is made of many individuals who are different in many ways. To get through these years, we have all had to learn to tolerate and cooperate with each other, no matter how different our personalities or backgrounds are. We can all be angelic, yet we all have our horns. We can easily go from silent classrooms to our recent water fights.
No matter what we go through, the class of 2005 will always cherish these precious memories. Thank you.

By Lendi Stirewalt
The past is behind us and the future is ahead. During the next four years, we will determine much of what the distant future holds. As we complete these years, we'll see friends come and go our goals will become more evident. Beyond high school, college will be waiting for many of us. We'll soon decide careers, and we'll go out on our own, leaving the security and shelter our homes currently provide.
I feel I've been fairly successful so far, along with many of my peers. I'd personally like to thank several people, though I could probably never name all of those who have been of help to me. First of all, I'd like to thank my family and parents, for getting me started and never giving up on me. Thank you to all of my friends, who have encouraged me to do my best. Even more than these, however, I'd like to thank my God, who will never let me down and gives me strength to carry on.
As we leave Diamond Middle School, I'd like to leave my classmates with this poem:

Go toward the future, but don't forget the past.
Remember that all the good you do will last.
Ask only of others what you too, would do.
Do more than is ever required of you.
Understand others by listening more.
Always forgive and never keep score.
Thank God each day for the privilege of living.
Enjoy every moment-and keep on giving!

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get this far, and please continue your encouragement throughout the next few years.


By Randy Turner
The little voices were working overtime for 66 Diamond eighth graders Thursday night as they said their goodbyes to middle school and prepared for the next step in their academic careers.
Holly Renfro's little voice was telling her not to trip as she walked across the platform to accept her certificate from Middle School Principal Ron Mitchell. She had good reason to be concerned. "I tripped today during practice," she said, "and I didn't even have high heels on."
The high heels didn't faze Holly a bit. When she returned to her seat, she took a few moments to examine the certificate that signified that she was no longer a middle school student.
The little voice Samantha Young heard was an echo of her parents' telling her what would be the proper posture for such a solemn occasion. "My parents have been telling me 'bring your shoulders back and keep your back straight." Samantha's parents proudly watched as their daughter followed the instructions to the letter.
Sara Atwell's voice reminded her of the money she would be receiving later on, while Sarah Simpson's focused on the dance that was held immediately afterward in the cafeteria. "Party hearty," the DMS Student Council president said.
Joe Horton had two different voices, leading him in two directions. During the three hours between the end of school and the graduation ceremony, he changed his mind numerous times about whether he would go to the ceremony. He was one of the ones who proudly walked across the stage.
"High school is at your very doorstep," R-4 Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith told the eighth graders. He had the parents and grandparents of the students stand and the eighth graders gave them a round of applause.
Dr. Smith encouraged the students to make the most of their high school years. "As you go through high school," he said, "don't take the easy road. Take rigorous courses. Test yourself. Focus and stay focused."
He quoted the Apostle Paul, encouraging the eighth graders to "run in such a way as to win the prize."
Principal Ron Mitchell introduced co-valedictorians Kristen Hicks and Lendi Stirewalt, each of whom had perfect. 11.0 grade point averages during their sixth, seventh and eighth grade years.
In her address, Kristen took the students through their elementary and middle school years. She thanked God, her parents, her family, her teachers and "the friends who have always been there for me. Throughout the past years," she said, "our class has stuck together through good and bad, thick and thin. We have braved new classrooms and new teachers, new hallways and soon we will start high school, a whole new adventure."
"No matter what we go through," she concluded, "the class of 2005 will always cherish these precious memories."
Lendi's address reminded the students of the importance of what awaits them. "The past is behind us and the future is ahead. During the next four years, we will determine much of what the distant future holds." She thanked her family and parents "for getting me started and never giving up on me. Thank you to all of my friends who have encouraged me to do my best. Even more than these, however, I'd like to thank my God, who will never let me down and gives me strength to carry on."
She concluded by saying, "Thanks to everyone who has helped us get this far and please continue your encouragement throughout the next few years."
Other students making the Top 10, in alphabetical order, were: Patrick Beckett, Graham Cox, Rikki Dardenne, Susan Johnson, Megan Kinney, Anthony Shipman, Matt Sutherland and Samantha Young.
Following the valedictory speeches, Mitchell presented the eighth graders with their certificates. The eighth graders reacted differently as they walked across the stage. Nate Compton was solemn, while Joe Garrison threw his arms into the air in victory. A big smile crossed Cliff McKee's face after he accepted his certificate. Melissa Bishop worried about falling before she reached the platform but she navigated it without any problems.
Members of the Diamond Eighth Grade Class of 2001 are: Megan Atkins, Heather Atler, Sara Atwell, John Barnett, Josh Beckett, Patrick Beckett, Justin Bessman, Zach Billings, Melissa Bishop, Aaron Boman, Kyle Bridges, Cody Brown, Tara Brown, Randy Callis, Andrea Chaney, Amy Cokerham, Nate Compton, John Cook, Graham Cox, Rikki Dardenne, Amanda Ferguson, Joe Garrison, Josh Gill, Chase Green, Jackie Hail, Kristen Hicks, Sarah Hoffman, Jessica Holden, Joseph Horton, Andi Ingersoll, Brent Jackson, Mike'l Jackson, Genoa Johnson, Susan Johnson, Megan Kinney, Stephanie Langland, Tosha Loyd, Jordan Macy, Andrew Martens, Timmy Matthews, Brittany McBride, Cliff McKee, Justin McLees, Justin Mosley, Heather Ogle, Leticia Rangel, Franklin Rawlings, Holly Renfro, Korey Scribner, Kendra Sharon, Anthony Shipman, Sarah Simpson, Patti Smart, David Spry, Shenoah Stewart, Lendi Stirewalt, Matt Sutherland, Kaci Testerman, Jolene Topham, Greg Tummons, Greg Vincent, Ryan Waggoner, Brandon Webb, Krista White, Nancy Wiggins and Samantha Young.

(May 2000)
By Randy Turner

Chelsea Blizzard's lower lip took quite a beating during the eighth grade graduation ceremony Wednesday night.
Every few seconds, as she listened first to Middle School Principal Ron Mitchell, then to Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith, then to the co-valedictorians of her eighth grade class, Meagan Wirth and Dezi Powers, Chelsea fidgeted in her seat and bit her lower lip.
"I was nervous," she said, shortly after she received the piece of paper that signified her transition from middle schooler to high schooler.
"I was afraid something was going to go wrong."
That fear continued as Chelsea prepared to walk across the platform and accept her certificate. "I thought my shoe was going to fall off," she said. It didn't happen. Chelsea came through like a trooper.
Chelsea Blizzard was one of 62 members of the eighth grade class, most of whom participated in the ceremony.
For one eighth grader, the decision to participate wasn't made until the last minute.
"She told me at ten 'til four that she was going to come," Melissa Gallagher's mother said. Even after the event, Melissa was not convinced that an eighth grade graduation ceremony was necessary...but she was totally convinced that being with her friends was.
"That's why I came," she said. "My friends are important to me and I wanted to be with them."
The ceremony began with a processional, followed by the greeting by Mr. Mitchell. As the speakers continued, the eighth graders reacted to the ceremony in various ways.
Most of them leaned back, listening to what the speakers had to say. Caleb Clay was also listening attentively, but he was hunched forward in his folding chair, his hands clasped tightly.
Kristen Bishop continually brushed a strand of hair that fell across her face every few moments.
As the featured speaker, Dr. Smith, reminded the eighth graders that the people who were in the audience were there because they loved them, Candace Clouse craned her neck, looking from side to side at a sea of familiar faces, making eye contact and smiling at as many of them as she could.
Last on the list of names, but at the top of her class, Meagan Wirth, the co-valedictorian, and Jessi Youngblood, exchanged a few comments and laughs between speakers.
Meagan was the first of the co-valedictorians to speak. "We have now come to a milestone in our lives," she began. "We have gone through nine long years and in those long years we have gone through many things. We have seen our friends come and go. There have been bad times and good times. There have been many classes and even more teachers. We have been through lots together, from dances to basketball games and even getting bad grades on our report cards, but we have made it through and now this chapter in our lives is coming to an end. But with every ending, there comes a new beginning and a new beginning is about to start for us as we graduate to become freshmen."
Meagan continued, "Though we are leaving the middle school behind, we will still have the memories of those three years we spent in the middle school hall. But now that we're moving on to high school, we will have even more to look forward to. There will be football games, driver's licenses, prom, and even our high school graduation. I am sure high school will be fun, even though our lives will change, when we make new friends and participate in different activities, but we will always have each other to lean on through our struggles and our accomplishments.
"Even though we are moving on, we will hopefully always be friends. Congratulations to everyone on all their accomplishments through middle school."
As Meagan was seated, her co-valedictorian, Dezi Powers, strode to the lectern. "We have been so through much together," she said. "We've had the good times that made us smile, or maybe even laugh, the bad times that made us cry, the mad times that might even have caused an argument, and, of course, the crazy times when we might've been just a little too loaded up on sugar.
"As we've gone through these times, we've helped each other along the way. Whether it was being a shoulder to cry on, someone to give advice, someone to let our anger out on, or maybe just someone to stand close, there was always someone there to help us. Now, after all these years, we realize how much fun we actually had and don't want to leave it all behind. As we close the book on those times and enter new years of our life and new hurdles we must jump over, I hope that we don't leave all the fun behind, but only continue it.
"Through the years," Dezi continued, "we've lost some relationships and gained some new ones. As we move on, I hope that we will continue to form new relationships and also grow closer as a whole.
"It is said there is strength in numbers, so just think of what we can accomplish if we all work together. Some may dread moving in to high school, but I think that when we weigh the positives and negatives, the positives would win out.
"I would like to thank every one of you for being there, being a friend, or maybe just making me smile. You have all helped me in one way or another. I owe a lot to all of you." She then gave special thanks to parents, family and teachers.
"And finally," she said, "but definitely not least, thanks to Jesus: If it weren't for Him, I would not be close to where I am today. He will never let me down and I owe all thanks to Him. All glory for any accomplishment goes to Him.
"We have great years ahead of us. Let's go for it! Thank you for listening and I love you all."
Following the speeches, the students received their certificates signifying their graduation from eighth grade.
A big smile crossed Eric Bateman's face as he accepted his certificate from Mr. Mitchell. Dezi Powers briskly made her way across the platform. Brittany Gilliam was all business with no smiles until she passed the platform and someone from the audience encouraged her to smile for pictures.
As Brent Morgan accepted his certificate, his friend Jake VanLue's mother, Susie, called out, "Look at me, Brent," so she could capture the moment for posterity.
Following the recessional, the students greeted relatives and friends, who were there to share their special day.
As for Chelsea Blizzard, as the ceremony ended, her shoes were still on, her lower lip was intact and the pensive look she had throughout the program had vanished, replaced by a sparkling smile.
"This was nice," she said. "I was nervous, but everything worked out just fine."
Members of the Diamond Middle School Eighth Grade Class of 2000 were:
Krystle Allan, Stephanie Barnett, Eric Bateman, Ashley Beegle, Joshua Bilke, Kristen Bishop, Chelsea Blizzard, T. J. Bowman, Andy Bradley, Mark Braiser, Alisha Brock, Ashley Brummett, Robin Bullis, Nicole Bunn, Caleb Clay, Candace Clouse, Casey Crane, Stephanie Darr, Kelsey Davis, Tyrel Decker, Landon Dees.
Also, Brian Evans, Greg Fetters, Renee Forest, Todd Forest, Melissa Gallagher, Brandon Getz, Brittany Gilliam, Kenzie Greenwood, Christina Hail, Sarah Hale, Gary Harrall, Andrew Hoffman, Casey Holland, Julie Johnson, Greg Kenny, Tracy Killion, Jetta Kilpatrick, Brenda Leuellen, Jason Little, David Long, Kara Malcolm.
Also, Mandy Mathews, Brent Morgan, Jacob Morin, Hannah Nelson, Kent Patrick, Falicia Phipps, Dezarae Powers, Kelli Price, Isabel Rangel, Brandi Rifenberg, Shane Sexson, Libby Sherrill, Jesse Sweet, Megan Taylor, Jake VanLue, Sheena Vincent, Christian Wall, Erica Welch, Meagan Wirth and Jessi Youngblood.
Those making the Top 10, in alphabetical order, were: Ashley Beegle, Andy Bradley, Robin Bullis, Brittany Gilliam, Tracy Killion, Falicia Phipps, Dezarae Powers, Jesse Sweet, Meagan Wirth and Jessi Youngblood.