Knoxville High School celebrated its 140th graduation ceremony on Sunday with an enthusiastic crowd of students, faculty, family and friends.

The class of 2019 consisted of 117 graduates. Thirteen students graduated in the top 10 percent, and 26 students graduated with honors.

Four students were chosen by their classmates to speak at the ceremony. Mickayla McGill, Tierney Heffron, Taylor Wyss and Nyan Baker spoke fondly of the community and their fellow classmates, reflected on their years of hard work and dedication and contemplated the future.

McGill reflected on her experience in FFA and how the community has shaped her as a member of society.

“My FFA jacket will serve as a reminder of everything it took to get to this point,” said McGill. “Throughout high school, we all had different support systems in our lives that have helped us to accomplish our goals. None of us took the same path to get to where we are today, but somewhere along the way, we met someone or found something that changed the course of our lives.”

Heffron contemplated the future and what life has in store for herself and her classmates.

“Lastly, you should live a life with no regrets,” said Heffron. “We shouldn’t believe in the what-ifs … as this chapter comes to an end, a whole world of opportunities opens up for us.”

Wyss stated she did not grow up in the school district, but she will always call the city of Knoxville home.

“I think a good quote about my experience at KHS would be: never be discouraged, never look back, give everything you’ve got, and when you fall throughout life, fall forward.”

Baker spoke of the tremendous support from faculty, teachers, parents, family and classmates that have helped him get to where he is today.

“I know that we as a graduating class of 2019 will excel in whatever it is that we do because that’s just who we are,” said Baker. “We’ve come so far together, and I have confidence that our futures hold so much more.”

Knoxville Community School Board President Andrew Schmidt spoke fondly of the class and shared how honored he was to watch them grow throughout the years.

“You’ve been an incredible class,” said Schmidt. “I really have enjoyed watching all that you’ve accomplished, and I’ve really grown to love many of you.”

Principal Tracy Wilkins presented multiple honors. The honors included seniors who have received at least 10 varsity letters during their high school career, the top ten percent and students who accumulated a certain number of points based on their involvement in multiple activities and their leadership roles in those activities.

“If asked, I would describe the class of 2019 as a group that left their mark on Knoxville High School,” said Wilkins. “They showed the rest of us how to carry ourselves and how we should treat each other. If you continue to do this beyond high school, you will find yourselves to be successful beyond your wildest dreams.”

Emily Hawk can be reached at or by calling the newsroom in Pella at 641-628-3882.