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Class of 2024 graduates from Jackson High School

Jackson graduates throw their caps in celebration at the end of their commencement ceremony on Friday. Photo by Jay Forness

Jackson High School celebrated 418 graduates in the Class of 2024 during its commencement ceremony on Friday, May 17, at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.

JHS Science Teacher Blake Miller, who was chosen as this year’s commencement speaker, told the graduates to find inspiration from others and be an inspiration to others.

Miller shared the inspiration he found reading about Dr. Paul Farmer, a doctor who worked fighting tuberculosis around the world. He also spoke about continuing their education, to encourage the curiosity of others and to do the thing they were destined to do.

“I want you to find your passion and go do that,” Miller said. “What about a job where you can support a family? Do that. What about an opportunity to serve your community, to serve your county? Go do that. A career where you can help people – help them physically, help them mentally, help them financially? Go do that.”

JHS Principal Roseann Bruns and Superintendent Scott Smith also gave their words of encouragement to the graduates. Bruns said this ceremony not only honored the graduate’s academic accomplishments but celebrated the extraordinary individuals they had become.

“Excellence does not come easy, and I’ve enjoyed seeing so many of you reach heightthat you may not have even thought possible,” Bruns said to the graduates. “Each one of you embarked on a unique path, facing challenges with resilience and embracing opportunities with courage.”

Smith said he could not wait to see what each of the graduates became and what they will accomplish throughout their lives, adding that there is no doubt that they were all a part of “Team Jackson.”

“You all have each put a lot of work to be here tonight,” Smith said to the graduates. “It takes dedication to complete the requirements that you’ve had put before you for the last 13 years of education. It hasn’t always been easy, some of you have had to study more than others, but you did it.”

During the commencement ceremony, Sydnie Floyd was announced as the Class of 2024 valedictorian with a GPA of 4.323 and Ryaan Biddle was named salutatorian with a GPA of 4.302. “Both of these students have worked extremely hard to achieve this distinction,” Bruns said.

Six graduates were honored for their commitment to join the military after graduation. Kendall Aguirre, Alex Hayes and Landon Wood will join the Missouri Army National Guard. Russell Coy, Hunter Ferrell and Daimien Wilson will join the United States Marine Corps.

Graduates were recognized for earning college scholarships during the ceremony, including more than $47,000 awarded by the Jackson R-2 Foundation and $41,000 awarded from local businesses, organizations and individuals.

In addition, 151 students were recognized for successfully completing the A+ scholarship program, serving a combined 8,377 hours of tutoring over the past four years.

Anna Ahrens, Kadence Crawford, Natalie Dry, Sydnie Floyd, Zoe Fox, Ashlee Meyer, Kya Pope and Clarissa Vaught sang the national anthem.

A graduation gown and flowers were placed on an empty chair in memory of Austin Grogan, who would have been graduating with the class of 2024. Grogan died in 2022.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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