Class of 2023

PBHS Class of 2023 earns $4.2M+ in scholarships
Posted on 05/31/2023
Karson Busse and Quinlan Rutledge

A total of 358 students graduated from the Poplar Bluff High School Class of 2023 on Thursday, May 25, at the Black River Coliseum, collectively earning $4.2 million and counting in scholarships, including through Missouri’s A+ Program, school officials announced.

Student Karson Busse was honored on stage at the commencement as the most inspirational classmate of the year. Voted by the seniors, Busse was given a commemorative gown containing all of the signatures from the class.

“My advice to the Class of 2023 is to be more like Karson,” suggested class president Quinlan Rutledge, explaining how she has known Busse throughout the entirety of her academic career, beginning in preschool. Busse happens to have been born with Down syndrome, Rutledge noted: “which means he is the kindest soul you’ll ever meet.”

“He doesn’t care what car you drive or what sport you play,” she continued. “He cares if you smile. He sees the best in you.”

This year’s valedictorian was Emmalein Pendley, who plans to attend Missouri State University in Springfield, where she will reportedly major in astrophysics and astronomy. In her speech, she quoted one of her favorite children’s books, “Old Mother West Wind” by Thornton Burgess, stating: “Luck never just happens. What people call bad luck is just the result of their own foolishness or carelessness or both, and what people call good luck is just the result of their own wisdom and carefulness and common sense.”

Salutatorian Jack Scott has been accepted into the University of Missouri at Columbia, although—keeping his options open—he remains undecided on an area of study at this point. He spoke to his fellow graduates about how quickly High School has passed by, in retrospect. “…This doesn’t just apply to High School but it also applies to life in general,” Scott said. “We’re all going to the same destination so we have to always enjoy the journey.”

In addition to their diplomas, four students earned associate degrees from Three Rivers College via the College Now program, including: Mariah DeShaney, Maura Dill, Kirstyn Millner and Audrie Sievers.


Cutline: Class president Quinlan Rutledge presents Karson Busse with the most inspirational classmate honor during the commencement ceremony. Click here to watch a replay.

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