Massac County High School (MCHS) seniors were celebrated on May 3 during the fourth annual Massac County College Signing Day held in the gymnasium at the high school.
Seniors took their seats on the gym floor, with underclassmen, family, friends and community members gathered in the bleachers to watch.
MCHS Principal Parker Windhorst welcomed the crowd and introduced the keynote speaker, Zach Hosman, a 2000 MCHS alumnus who went on to graduate from Southern Illinois University, cum laude in 2004, and received his Juris Doctorate from Regent University in 2007.
Hosman has practiced law in Illinois and Kentucky and is currently the youngest member of the leadership team at Paducah Bank, where he serves as the director of mortgage services, overseeing mortgage operations in western Kentucky, southern Illinois and the Louisville market.
Hosman began by urging the seniors to make time for family this summer before embarking on their post high school education.
He told them getting furthering their education is important, but it does not necessarily mean attending a four-year institution. Attending a community college, trade school, vocational school is important, he and emphasized the importance of having something that will show a prospective employer they have what it takes.
"I am convinced I'm where I'm at because of that JD," said Hosman, who practiced law for four and a half years.
He shared with the seniors the importance of working hard.
"It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it," said Hosman, "Don't let other people tell you, you can't do something," he said.
Once seniors have landed their first job, his last piece of advice was to be patient. He reminded students they have to build a reputation and success can take time. "It's a marathon, not a sprint," said Hosman.
After Hosman's speech, Assistant MCHS Principal Justin Kindle served as master of ceremonies reading the names of the high school seniors and what their post graduation plans include. As names were called, each senior had an opportunity to sign one of the banners lying on tables.
According to the MCHS guidance department, 93 percent of the class of 2019 was honored during College Signing Day and 95 percent of the students are college bound.
Five percent of the senior class have chose the military: Tyler Anderson, Joshua Corindia and Jonathan Sullivan will enter the Illinois National Guard; Christopher Blake Burkeen will join the United States Airforce and Hayden Dillard will join the United States Army Reserve.
"The amount of time and energy put in by our counselors, Mrs. Goines and Ms. Aly, is what makes this event such a success. We continually get positive feedback from the parents on how special it is to them seeing their child get honored. It has turned into an annual tradition that everyone looks forward to," said Windhorst.
"Education beyond high school is critical to a successful future. Students who seek post-secondary education and/or training have more opportunities than those who choose not to pursue some form of education beyond high school. The MCHS Counseling Department reinforces the idea that education is worth more than just a higher paycheck; it is the most valuable asset a person could ever have," said MCHS Counselor Leslie Goines.
According to Goines, the Class of 2019 began their college/career exploration their freshman year and because of a comprehensive school-counseling program, these students were consistently engaged in career exploration, academic planning, and self-planning/reflection throughout their time at MCHS.
"College Signing Day is the icing on the cake that celebrates everyone," said Goines, adding "This weekend, I received a gratitude letter from a student. In this letter, the student thanked me ... 'College Signing Day gives everyone a chance to be recognized. I have never been invited to an academic awards night, never had the highest AR score, couldn't make a sports team ... but because of College Signing Day, I was celebrated in front of the largest audience I have ever seen ... my parents could not have been more proud.'"
MCHS graduation will be held Friday, May 17 at Massac County High School gymnasium at 7 p.m.
To see the College Signing Day video and hear all of Hosman's remarks, visit the Planet's YouTube Channel.