Friday night I was filled with mixed emotions as I helped my daughter get ready for another milestone in her life. As I watched her enter the standing room only gymnasium I could not fight back the tears of pride and relief. As each graduating students name was called and they made their way across the gym to accept what they had worked so hard for, I kept waiting for one name to be called. A person that had worked just as hard if not harder to make this moment a reality in his life. I waited for the principal or a school board member or even one of the two Salutatorians to recognize this person within their speech or to bring attention to a seat that has been left empty for a fallen classmate as has usually been the tradition.
Nothing, nothing but silence in regards to a classmate that drown during the March flood. So while members of the school system and classmates of this student found it acceptable to ignore his accomplishments I do not. So for whatever it is worth I would like to recognize this young man now.
Mark Gene Speir Jr.
Earned his high school diploma after returning to school an extra year to complete the state requirements. He had just finished his last requirement which was the Missouri constitution test.
He could have given up after not graduating on time but he did not. He returned to finish what he had started. He worked two jobs one at Taco Bell and the other at Lowe's. He would have started college in the fall. He had a bright future ahead of him due to his determination and a special education teacher who encouraged him and never allowed him the opportunity to give up.
While the decision to wade into Kelly creek that afternoon was a tragic one so was the decision not recognize his accomplishments.