McAuley High seniors reflect on school during Warrior Walk

May 10—As students from preschool through the fifth grade lined the hallways at St Mary's Catholic Elementary School, a chant of "Warrior Walk" began to spread.

These students were awaiting the annual parade of graduating seniors from McAuley Catholic High School.

It was one of several senior traditions happening across the area as students prepare to graduate.

At St. Mary's, 17 students dressed in caps and gowns walked the halls, giving high fives to the younger students. Many were greeted by former teachers with hugs.

For McAuley valedictorian Juliet Anreder, the tradition was as much for the younger students as it was for the older ones.

"We're encouraging students to stay with Joplin Area Catholic Schools, stay with us. I hope they can see the future is ahead of them, and they, too, soon can graduate. I know it feels far away, but really it's not," she said.

Anreder started with Joplin Area Catholic Schools at St. Peter's Middle School. She said JACS helped her grow in her faith with the guidance of her teachers.

"When I came here, I had always grown up in a Catholic family," Anreder said. "We went to Mass every Sunday. But this school has helped me to connect with God in my own personal way because there's a difference in attending the Mass and actually being present in the Mass."

She said her favorite memory is from her sophomore year when her chemistry class accidentally triggered a fire alarm during a lab.

"Everyone else was panicking, evacuating the school," Anreder said. "Firetrucks came. But our class was just laughing all the way down the stairs, while our teacher frantically tried to find the principal to explain what happened."

Anreder plans to attend the University of Arkansas in the Honors College, majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in computer science.

With a small graduating senior class, she said the seniors are close and plan to keep in touch. Four of them are attending the same university and already have plans to meet up every month.

After participating in the Warrior Walk, Anreder said she would tell the younger students to focus on schoolwork, maintain their friendships and enjoy being a kid, because it goes by quickly.

"I feel so young but to them I seem so old," Anreder said. "I would ask them, 'How old do you think I am?' They said I have to be 25. I'm like, 'No, not yet.' It's very surreal being here and knowing I'm a kid like them at heart, but now I'm all grown up."

Graduation ceremonies

Area schools have scheduled commencement ceremonies over the next couple of weeks:

—Jasper High School's graduation is 3 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at the high school.

—Webb City's graduation is 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Cardinal Stadium.

—Carl Junction's graduation is at 7 p.m., Friday, May 17, in the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.

—Diamond's graduation is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the high school.

—Neosho's graduation is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Bob Anderson Stadium.

—Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School's graduation is at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in the Thomas Jefferson Concert Hall.

—East Newton's graduation is at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at the high school.

—College Heights Christian School's graduation is at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in the College Heights Worship Center.

—Seneca's graduation is at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in the high school gymnasium.

—Joplin High School's graduation is at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 19, in Kaminsky Gym.

—McAuley graduation is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, in St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Sarcoxie and Carthage have already held their graduation ceremonies.