As families and friends entered the Commencement Ceremony at the Berglund Performing Arts Theatre, everyone could feel that gravity of the momentous day.
On June 11, elated Craig County High School senior graduates took the stage for their last moments as high school students.
The ceremony began with the Processional by music teacher, Alyssa Cross-Schulke. The 2021 Junior Marshalls were Kylee Dawn Clifton and Lucas Dwane Taylor.
Graduating students who proudly entered were: Hunter Austin Ashley*, Nicole Ann Austin*, Samuel Benjamin Boardwine*, Jakob Curtis Craft, Claire Nicole Deplazes*, Sierra Michelle Dilcher, Maria Hope Dressler, Breonna Colleen Drummond*, Virginia Leona Estes, Latoya Michelle Gober*, Dalton Gage Henderson, Kayla Marie Hutchison, Autumn Brooke Hutchison*, Jaela Starr Hutton*, Alexus Gwen Jones*, Logan James Kitler, Laci Ann Law*, James Logan McAllister*, Abigail Reece McAlwee, Clayton Chandler Owens, Abigayle Mackenzie Price*, Lucy Yue Mei Rigney*, Tyler Ray Romeo, Samantha Lynn Sarver, Justin Cole Sarver, Gavin Rex Shires*, Channing Thomas Smith, Ashlyn Grace Stanley, Bryson Hale Taylor, Isaiah Pendleton Taylor. Emma Claire Todd*, Augustina Forrest White*, Gavin Keith Williams*, and Joseph Michael Zimmerman*. (Note – Beta Club Members*)
The welcoming and recognition of special guests was giving by Principal Melissa Whiting.
All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Class President, Autumn Hutchison.
The student speakers included: Emma Claire Todd, CCHS 2021 Valedictorian; Claire Nicole Deplazes, CCHS 2021 Salutatorian; Latoya Michelle Gober, CCHS 2021 Salutatorian and Gavin Rex Shires, CCHS 2021 Salutatorian.
Ashlyn Stanley then sang a special song, “A Million Dreams” from the movie The Greatest Showman.
Some of the words were, Every night I lie in bed, The brightest colors fill my head, A million dreams are keeping me awake, I think of what the world could be, A vision of the one I see, A million dreams is all it’s gonna take, A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make! They can say it all sounds crazy, They can say I’ve lost my mind, I don’t care, so call me crazy, We can live in a world that we design.
“The reason I sang that song is because as seniors, we are going out in the world and making it our own,” said Stanley who will be attending college in the fall with endeavors to pursue law.
The class’s guest speaker was one of their very favorite teachers, Geoff Boyer.
He started his welcome with a recount, as he said, “After discovering that my lovely wife, Mrs. Boyer, received a single vote more than me to do this speech, I did some investigating. I found three votes in Mr. Phelps’ trash can, and I will now read those votes: Geoff Boyer, Donald Trump and Mrs. Pam Boyer. OK, she won fair and square.” Laughter immediately pursued afterward.
He continued as he congratulated the Class of 2021. “In my extremely biased opinion, I believe that graduating from Craig County is truly an honor. The fact that our school is located in a beautiful area, and we handled a global pandemic about as well as anyone, are not the main reasons why we are so lucky,” he said. “It’s the people and what we can learn from them.”
Boyer continued, “Although there isn’t enough time to mention everyone, I would like to focus on some of the special graduates and faculty members.”
- One graduate has taught us that if you set your mind to something, you can do great things. For example, graduating early, playing two varsity sports and annoying Mr. G. is Abby Price
- One graduate has taught us to be ready when you get your chance. Using her time at BTEC to earn a Nursing degree and going from the bench to serving 99 percent as a starter, Samantha Sarver has taken advantage of her opportunities
- Another graduate demonstrated how to overcome obstacles. You wouldn’t expect the player who is on the court for every point and calls for the ball the loudest to be the shortest player with challenges that would limit other, Lucy Rigney
- The next graduate has shown us how to execute and perform under pressure. I suppose by now you all realize I’m speaking in terms of volleyball but has made the right decisions at the right time making everyone around her better, which is just as useful off the court, Nicole Austin
- The final graduate I’d like to acknowledge is one who has shown us how to be multidimensional. Although her accolades in academics, athletics and other activities are numerous, it is the commitment of time and energy to her peers and community that’s most impressive, Autumn Hutchison
Boyer added that it was a special day for a couple of faculty members.
“For 32 years at McCleary Elementary, Andrea Jennings has been helping raise the children of Craig County. She has exhibited her version of “tough love,” which I say in all sincerity, as she is tougher than me and my son Ryan loved being in her class this year. Mrs. Jennings, I wish you all the best in your retirement,” he said. “And of course, there will be no replacing the 35-year teaching, makeup work preaching, helicopter hair spinning, ear to ear grinning, speed walking, mile an hour talking force of nature that is -Woooooo Cathy Looney. I ask that we please pray for John Looney during her retirement.” Laughter once again ensued.
He finished his “tip of the cap” by adding, in his opinion, the CCPS employee of the year.
“This person has done so much, for so many, with humility and care for every man, woman or child who walks our halls. I’d like to say a special ‘Thank You’ to Mrs. Sherry Crowder.”
Boyer joked a little as he compared the teachers; Andrea Jennings in Elementary has two sons, Cathy Looney in Middle has two sons, Sherry Crowder in the cafeteria also has two sons. “To make this pattern complete we need a teacher in the High School with two sons. Oh right, Pam Boyer,” he said with a big laugh.
“Well, back to that original vote that she won fair and square, it looks like, Class of 2021, you have already made a good choice. When you leave this stage, keep it up. Thank you and congratulations,” Boyer said.
Later he added, “It’s obvious the Class of ’21 will have a unique story of their past, but it’s their future that will prove to be the most memorable.”
“They have worked hard and excelled under extraordinary circumstances,” said Counselor Evelyn Steege. “I am proud of all of our graduates and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”
Diplomas were proudly awarded as emotions of joy exuded from Whiting and a feeling of great success from the graduates.
As the seniors walked the stage, some gave big grins, bows and fun gestures, while others seemed to enjoy their success more quietly.
Superintendent Jeanette Warwick led them in the confirmation of their graduation as joyful shouts and hats filled the air by the graduating seniors, staff and their families. Tears were seen streaming the cheeks of some.
“I am extremely proud of this group of graduates. They each overcame many obstacles to meet the requirements earning them a seat on the stage at graduation,” Principal Whiting shared with heartfelt fulfillment. “They have matured into independent, strong, thoughtful, and kind individuals and I believe that the difficulties they faced this school year led them to this transition. Although I will miss all of them greatly, I am eager to see what their futures will bring.”