After a tumultuous 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted each classroom instruction and commencement workout routines, lots of of seniors returned to normalcy in latest days by way of ceremonies celebrating each their educational achievements and overcoming the pandemic.
But the coronavirus loomed over the proceedings held at varied campuses throughout Surry County, as was the case Saturday morning throughout Mount Ethereal Excessive Faculty’s graduation program.
“Wow, what a yr it has been,” Valedictorian Brooke Lankford advised a big crowd assembled on the varsity’s soccer discipline, saying COVID-19 had supplied an academic expertise in itself.
“I discovered that staying optimistic could make all of the distinction.”
Such feedback had been echoed at different graduation packages throughout the county — collectively recognizing the truth that it has been a yr like no different, however the human spirit triumphed over adversity as soon as once more.
MOUNT AIRY HIGH SCHOOL
Diplomas had been awarded to 135 MAHS seniors Saturday morning throughout a program that punctuated a victory arguably as huge as any achieved by the Bears soccer group in the identical venue.
Senior Class President Peyton Harmon, considered one of 5 scholar audio system on this system, neatly summed up occasions of the previous yr as “this most uncommon time in our lives.”
He went on to say that at durations in life when every part appears to be going properly, some surprising occasion can happen which disrupts even the best-laid of plans.
“COVID made that fairly clear to me,” the Class of 2021 president noticed, whereas mentioning how good issues can nonetheless occur underneath such circumstances.
“We didn’t again down from the challenges of COVID,” Harmon mentioned of 1 such consequence, as evidenced by the proud look of the graduates Saturday. “We did it!” he exclaimed.
One other speaker Tessa Stovall, the vp of the senior class, provided the same view:
“Whereas this college yr has been something however extraordinary, we’re all glad to commemorate this big day.”
Darius Walker, Mount Ethereal Excessive’s scholar physique president, cited an added diploma of pleasure surrounding Saturday’s milestone, involving the truth that the campus was opened to in-person studying final August.
“We had been the one college within the state of North Carolina to take action,” mentioned Walker, his remarks drawing loud applause from these assembled, together with members of the family and pals of graduates packing the stadium bleachers.
That distinction additionally was acknowledged Saturday by Dr. Kim Morrison, the superintendent of Mount Ethereal Metropolis Colleges.
“I’m so grateful to everybody who made this occur,” Morrison mentioned throughout her time on the podium, particularly praising college board members who rendered the troublesome choice to proceed with in-person studying.
NORTH SURRY HIGH SCHOOL
North Surry graduated 163 seniors Saturday in Charles Atkins Memorial Stadium.
Isaac Riggs, scholar physique president, spoke to his fellow graduates in regards to the significance of being form. He shared experiences of missionary journeys taken throughout his youth to Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and the way the significance of being form to at least one one other was one thing he discovered by way of these visits.
“I need us to know that the small issues matter — attempt to have a optimistic impression on somebody’s day,” Riggs acknowledged.
“We as ‘common’ folks don’t at all times have to provide monumental quantities of cash or carry out wonderful acts of generosity, however can merely be form and do the little issues — this can have the largest impression, generally greater than you realize.”
Riggs was acknowledged because the salutatorian of the NSHS Class of 2021. He shall be a scholar at Lenoir-Rhyne College within the fall.
James Jessup was the valedictorian of North Surry’s Class of 2021 and in addition the senior class president. As well as, he served as Pupil Authorities Affiliation president at Surry Group School this previous yr.
Jessup graduated from SCC earlier than he really did from highschool and is headed to the College of North Carolina within the fall to ultimately pursue a profession in regulation.
He spoke to his classmates about seeking to the long run.
In his speech, the valedictorian quoted Malcolm X: “Training is the passport to the long run.”
Jessup additionally left classmates with a little bit of his personal recommendation, saying that “whatever the pathway we take, all of us have the potential to make a distinguished impression.”
EAST SURRY HIGH SCHOOL
Perseverance was a central theme of the East Surry commencement ceremony held inside David H. Diamont Stadium Friday night.
“It’s exhausting to disregard the elephant within the room after we’re discussing our highschool expertise,” mentioned Colton Allen, East Surry senior class president. For 135 graduating seniors, attending their closing yr of highschool throughout a pandemic posed all new challenges on prime of the normal trials college students face.
Each scholar audio system — Allen and Pupil Physique President Chloe Hunter — in addition to Charity Rosenhauer, who carried out Riley Clemmons’ tune “Carry on Hoping,” burdened the significance of by no means giving up when confronted with seemingly unimaginable odds. An excerpt from Rosenhauer’s tune completely expressed this message to these in attendance: “Carry your eyes, you’re gonna be alright. You’ve obtained the energy to maintain on going, so carry on hoping.”
The college yr started with distant studying, transitioned into alternating college days through which college students discovered in cohorts, then slowly however absolutely made its approach again right into a extra regular setting that permitted commencement to happen.
College students had been in a position to expertise all of the issues one would count on to see at a commencement ceremony together with the loud pals and households that crammed the bleachers, the smiling, and maskless faces of scholars as they walked throughout the stage to shake arms with (or chest bump) Principal Jared Jones, in addition to the cloud of foolish string that crammed the air after the declaration of commencement.
East Surry was additionally in a position to correctly honor the 2 college students with the best cumulative GPAs. Jacob Michael Haywood was acknowledged as valedictorian and Chloe Noelle Sloop as salutatorian.
SURRY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
At Surry Central Excessive Faculty’s ceremony Thursday night in Dobson, some graduates danced throughout the stage or fluttered flags as capes whereas crossing the edge to their post-high college futures.
“It’s no secret that the previous three semesters have been difficult,” Principal Misti Holloway advised them.
“You rose to those challenges and you’ve got conquered them.”
This yr’s senior class will disperse with 122 pursuing post-secondary training, six coming into the army and 46 becoming a member of the workforce.
SURRY EARLY COLLEGE
Getting a leap on graduations this yr with the primary native ceremony was one of many newer academic establishments within the county, Surry Early School Excessive Faculty.
Marking its 2021 graduating class had been 64 college students who achieved that academic milestone.
This was the eleventh Surry Early School Excessive Faculty commencement ceremony, with college students incomes each a highschool diploma and a two-year school diploma. The 64 college students had been honored in in a ceremony held on Could 21.
Two of the category’ prime college students had been the featured audio system, remembering their years collectively on the college in addition to encouraging classmates to sit up for a shiny future.
The senior speaker was Mason Elijah Melton and the “tremendous” senior speaker, Paloma Garcia-Serrano.
SURRY ONLINE MAGNET SCHOOL
Surry On-line Magnet Faculty not solely celebrated the milestone reached by its seniors Friday afternoon, however the truth that they represented the first-ever graduating class of a novel establishment.
“You positioned a mark on historical past,” particular speaker Dr. Jill Reinhardt advised the seven departing college students throughout their graduation workout routines on the Surry County Authorities Heart in Dobson — a small group with a big achievement,
Surry On-line Magnet Faculty had provided them the choice of finishing a highschool training by way of strictly on-line means stressing customized studying by way of distinctive and versatile alternatives desired by college students for varied causes.
They did so with “no classroom partitions, no steel desks and no cafeteria,” mentioned Reinhardt, who retired from Surry County Colleges in January however had served as a key member of a improvement and implementation group to make the web magnet idea a actuality.
Although missing partitions, the varsity does have a mascot, the Trailblazers, which was referred to a number of occasions throughout Friday’s graduation.
Reinhardt mentioned the person graduates might need begun their academic careers as Cedar Ridge Elementary Faculty Panthers or Westfield Wildcats, however had been ending as Trailblazers — signifying the individuality of the brand new on-line public college that was groundbreaking each regionally and statewide.
The scholars had been people “who took an opportunity on change and progress,” mentioned the graduation speaker, who added that some thought the varsity couldn’t get off the bottom throughout a pandemic and attain what it has in such a short while.
The graduates additionally had been praised Friday by their principal, Kristin Blake:
“You’ve got trailblazed by way of your training and everybody who’s right here as we speak is happy with your accomplishment.”
MILLENNIUM CHARTER ACADEMY
Millennium Constitution Academy introduced its fourth graduating class on the annual graduation ceremony on Saturday.
This yr’s class is the varsity’s largest with 34 graduates, 80 % of whom are going to a school or college, together with an Ivy League college, with the stability heading immediately into the workforce.
MCA’s graduation’s theme was “The Occasions We Are Given,” a reference to how the scholars, college and households courageously handled the pandemic, even with all of the challenges introduced, and accomplished a extremely profitable college yr.
Saturday’s keynote speaker was Stan Jewell, president and CEO of Renfro Manufacturers, an organization that additionally dealt efficiently with the occasions it was given when Renfro switched from sock manufacturing to masks manufacturing and actually masked Mount Ethereal and varied different cities.
Jewell’s tackle provided sound recommendation to the graduates and all these current. He mentioned it issues not a lot the place an individual goes in his or her life, however how they obtained there.
The speaker inspired each scholar to journey by way of life with authenticity, being true to themselves, and to have curiosity and grit and work exhausting in all that they do.
In contrast to final yr’s graduation ceremony, which was held outdoor as households watched from their automobiles, this yr’s program happened in MCA’s higher college gymnasium.
Graduates had been restricted to 6 visitors every, and all attendees had been masked.