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Ritenour High School Class of 2021 Celebrates Graduation with Fanfare

The Ritenour High School class of 2021 crossed the outdoor stage with their diplomas during a graduation ceremony on June 6 at POWERplex STL in Hazelwood. View highlights from the event.

Amidst Pomp and Circumstance, confetti, tears and smiles, the ceremony marked the finish line to a year unlike any other. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 103rd RHS graduation date and venue changed from indoors at Chaifetz Arena to the outdoor POWERplex. 

The atmosphere at this unique graduation combined a traditional ceremony with a festive picnic atmosphere. The outdoor complex allowed family and friends of the 345 graduates to enjoy the ceremony in lawn chairs close to the staging area where graduates sat, as well as with large screens and speakers and on the radio from their cars throughout the complex. The ceremony also was live streamed on Vimeo for family and friends at home. 

Watch graduation here. (ceremony starts at 1:28:30)

The graduates finished their high school career after navigating the challenges and restrictions of the pandemic, which included full virtual classes from March 2020 through January 2021. 

About 40 percent of RHS senior class who opted for in-person classes came back on a hybrid in-person/virtual schedule in January, and then went to a four-day week of in-person classes in February. Fridays remained virtual for all students through May 2021. Sixty percent of the senior class chose to remain in full virtual learning for the entire school year.

Student speakers at graduation were Kayla Anne Baker, who will be attending Saint Louis University and Aniah Janae Cosby, who will be attending Alabama A&M University. Both addressed how the class overcame obstacles of the pandemic.

“This year has taught us that youth, life, freedom, the high school experience is not a given, so hold it hostage,” said Baker. “Collect these memories. The world is waiting for you.” 

Cosby thanked the teachers, coaches and sponsors for providing students the opportunity to be involved in sports and clubs during the most challenging of all years.

“Clubs and sports saved our year,” said Cosby. “Without those coaches, clubs and instructors, I think we all would have gone crazy.”

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the highlights from the class of 2021 include:

  • Seniors earned more than $6.2 million in college scholarships.
  • Six seniors were admitted to highly selective colleges and universities early decision on full scholarships: Annie Le, Toni Taylor and Veronica Susovica - Washington University; Tyra Smith - Franklin & Marshall College; Christopher Campos - University of Miami; Maxine Bee - Lehigh University.
  • Five seniors became Ritenour’s first cohort to graduate with both a high school diploma and associate’s degree from St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley. They are: Keryi Alcanter, Kayla Anne Baker, Monserrat Delgado, Ashley Morales and Madison Secrease.
  • Kayla Anne Baker and Darlene Garcia became the district’s first two seniors to earn Grow Your Own scholarship recipients. They will attend Saint Louis University on full scholarship to become educators who will then return to Ritenour schools upon their college graduation.