The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 21, 2012

Our View: Inspiring all of us

“Without friends, none of us would be where we are today.” — Michelle Barchak, Joplin honor student and graduation speaker

The Joplin Globe

— We look forward to the speeches of honor student Michelle Barchak and others Monday night when they address the 2012 Joplin High School graduating class — along with President Barack Obama and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Their speeches, in our view, and we hope in the minds of all of those attending the graduation ceremonies, should be counted every bit as importantly as those of our state and national leaders.

 We view these seniors as special — not because they have attracted the attention of many famous people, from the president to  pop stars — but because they have survived the scrutiny of a nation, lived in a fishbowl high school at the mall, are the first truly digital class to walk across the stage and because so many of them lost their family, their friends and their homes to the nation’s most devastating tornado in modern history.

We are in awe of the class of 2012. In spite of their trials, this class has produced a record number of honor students since Joplin implemented the cum laude system — 68 to be precise.

High school Principal Kerry Sachetta said it well in a message to the students and staff of the high school:

“As we reflect on what we have endured over the past year, we will remember May 22, 2011, and this school year for the rest of our lives. Every one of us suffered personal hardships — the loss of a relative, friend or acquaintance — and many tears were shed. ... The memories made at 2104 Indiana Ave., were not lost, but they will live on because of the stronger and deeper relationships we have made this past school year.”

Michelle Barchak is right. None of us would be here today without our friends. As the students from the class of 2012 accept their accolades and diplomas on Monday, let them also remember their friends, their parents, their teachers and their community.

Class of 2012, you have inspired us all. Now, take all you have learned, and inspire yourselves.