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Many graduates decorated their mortars with inspirational quotes or images depicting future plans.

Graduation speakers advised the members of the Vinton-Shellsburg Class of 2014 to believe they will succeed, have a plan, be prepared to overcome difficulties, and to be part of a community during the commencement exercises Sunday.

Approximately 100 seniors received diplomas in the ceremony in the high school gym. Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock told the graduates that the main factor in whether or not they would be successful is if they believed they could be. She also urged them to have not just one, but many, plans in place to see that they reach their goals.

Graduate Kayla Taylor told her classmates about the early failures of author J.K. Rowling, and how she kept on writing and trying despite multiple rejections and financial difficulty as a single mother.

Advisors presented the seniors the class flower -- a white rose dipped in black and gold sparkles -- after each received his or her diploma.

Faculty speaker Deborah Vaughan told the audience that part of the reason for the forming of advisor groups at the high school was to help students form community relationships with others. Her speech reminded the students of some of the lessons they had shared.

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